By Shaun Casey
CROSSMAGLEN aren’t dwelling on the players that are missing through county commitments and injuries, insists manager Stephen Kernan.
Instead, the Rangers are using it as a chance to bleed through some new talent and give the younger members of the squad game time and experience. The likes of Stephen Morris and Caolan Dillon are currently sidelined through injury.
“We’re unlucky with injuries as in their serious bone breaks but we’re lucky that the rest of the boys are fairly fit, and we don’t have any other muscle injuries,” said Kernan.
“We’ve played every game down about ten starting players and we’re still feeling aggrieved that we’re coming away having lost two games now by a combined total of three points and drew one game.
“We’re very happy with them and if we had them other boys then the young fellas that are being asked to play here at 17, 18 and 19 years of age, they wouldn’t get those opportunities to play in big games. It’s not something that we’re dwelling on in terms of the men that we’re losing, we’re preparing the other fellas to just step up and get an experience that is going to stand to them in time to come.”
Several youngsters started their most recent league game, a 1-12 to 0-13 defeat away to Madden last Saturday evening.
“Orin McKeown, Tommy Og (Duffy), Ronan Fitzpatrick, Caolan Finnegan, they’re all players that played in the u-19 championship for us last year. Conor Deery in goals, he was an u-19 last year.
“They’re getting great experience. It’s a harsh world, you make a mistake in front of a decent crowd, and everybody knows about it.
“They’re fairly committed fellas, they’re very committed fellas and they want to make it as senior footballers.
“It’s probably a wee bit harsh on them because they’re the first generation of players to be landing in to play without seasoned campaigners there to help them because our seasoned players, we don’t have many of them.
“It’s a very young team, they’re all under 24 and our best players are with the county. It is fairly harsh but at the same time it is what it is.”
Crossmaglen led by five points at half time, but Madden reeled them back in after the turnaround. Kernan, who also confirmed Jamie Clarke was back “doing a bit of training” with the team, was pleased with his side’s performance.
“We played well in the first half; we probably didn’t take as many chances as we should have. We left a lot of chances behind us, but I think in the second half, our performance was still okay. Madden were always going to get a purple patch on us, and our performance was still very good, we still won quite a few battles in the second half.
“We just lacked that clinical and ruthlessness in attack as well. We missed some handy scores, or we took some wrong options but all in all it was a decent performance from us, we probably should have got something out of it.”