By Shaun Casey
CROSSMAGLEN and Armagh legend Aaron Kernan has decided to call time on his illustrious club career. During his 23 years in the black and amber, Kernan won 18 county medals, eight Ulster titles and three All-Irelands.
Kernan, son of legendary Armagh player and manager Joe, retired following his side’s five-point defeat to Trillick in the first round of the Ulster Club Championship.
“I had my mind made up completely, that’s it,” explained the 2005 Young Footballer of the Year after the game.
“To be fair I’m 40, I’ve just given everything. You’d love to change it but the hunger’s not there. I’ve given everything and it’s family and that’s it.”
Crossmaglen failed to score in the second half of their 9-4 defeat and Kernan felt that one point could have turned things around.
“One point, all it needed was one point,” added Kernan “We probably had a few half chances, balls tailed wide and that, but they weren’t nearly as clear cut as what we had created in the first half.
“They were nearly snap shots but just one point, that’s all it takes. It gives you a bit of a breather, it gives you a wee bit of confidence.
“But the longer the half went on, the more it was draining from us, the more we were losing shape and then the more energy it was giving them. To be fair to them, they picked off some lovely scores.
“They were very good in possession; they didn’t give the ball away and they didn’t give us any opportunity to get back up the field and get a score. It’s so hard to explain and it’s so hard to take but it is what it is.”
Crossmaglen crashed out of the provincial series last season to Ballybay and for one whole year, that defeat lingered. The Rangers embraced getting the chance to right those wrongs in Ulster this year but came up short once again.
“The first half wasn’t hectic, but I thought we were in control. We never really got into our flow, nor did they. But it was basically the same as last year, a team gets a bit of a run on us, and we just seem to lose our shape completely.
“We couldn’t stem the tide. We probably didn’t haemorrhage as many scores as last year, but we just didn’t look like troubling them at all.
“For 12 months you work hard and it just doesn’t work out, it’s very hard to put context on it at the minute of why it happened or how it happened.
We just lost all shape, invited them on to us and they’re good on the ball and they were picking holes.
“But it’s very disappointing from our point of view that you can’t turn it around. The team gets a run on you and that’s the difference in the Ulster Club.
“You might get away with that in your own county championship but clearly, we’re just not coping with it in Ulster at the moment.
“You think you’ve worked on it, and you think you’ve ticked all the boxes, and it happens again and that’s hard to take.
“It’s 12 months’ work and you’re looking at it there and probably thinking, what have they been doing for 12 months?
“That’s the bit I just find hardest to deal with because you’re the players on the field.
“You’re the ones that’s supposed to be able to change it, you’re the ones that’s supposed to be able to get that one score you need to pin them back in and we didn’t do it.”