By Shaun Casey
CROSSMAGLEN manager Stephen Kernan insists he’ll be taking the positives from his sides five-point win over neighbours Silverbridge in the first round of the Armagh Championship, despite not playing to their full potential.
The sides were all square at the half-time break, 0-8 apiece, but two Silverbridge goals after the turnaround seemed to suggest that an upset was on the cards. But as they tend to do, Crossmaglen upped their performances levels to turn the game around.
From five down to five up, Crossmaglen dominated the final quarter of the game to book their spot in the last eight, where they’ll take on Dromintee in two weeks’ time.
“It’s fairly similar to last year’s first round of the championship against Clan na Gael, they got two goals against us, and we had to dig deep and come back that day and we had to do the same today,” said Kernan, entering his third year in charge.
“Silverbridge had a good Division 1B campaign, they performed really well, and they were unlucky not to be promoted.
“They probably surprised us a bit today in that they were more attacking than I thought they were going to be.
“I thought they were going to be a lot more defensive, and it probably threw a bit of a curve ball at us in the first half and
then we thought we got to grips with it, but the two goals were obviously disappointing.
“The positives are, it’s a long time since we scored 20 scores in a game, there’s not many teams nowadays who rack up 20 scores and somehow it seems like you’ve lost the game even though you’ve won it.”
“Elementary” and “unforced” errors cost Crossmaglen a lot of possession plus the Rangers just weren’t firing as well as they usually do up front.
But, as Kernan pointed out, sharpshooter Cian McConville excelled throughout, and it was his excellent crossfield ball that created the Crossmaglen goal to finish the game.
“We just need to sharpen up on some elementary errors,” added Kernan.
“In the first half we gave unforced errors away, unchallenged balls, things that Crossmaglen players are good at, and it resulted in scores, albeit a lot of their
scores were handy enough frees in the first half.
“And we weren’t as clinical as we would have liked but then the positive is, that’s the first game out of the way, we survived, and we kicked 20 scores and some very good performances.
“I thought Cian didn’t get a lot of ball but it’s the best I’ve seen him playing in a long time, I thought he was consistently good throughout the game, a lot of our players were good and then did something silly, I think he was consistently good, and he was probably our best player.”