It was only when Darren O’Hare was switched from midfield to full-forward for the second half, that Cross rearguard was put under pressure but, still, there never seemed a chance that the Antrim champions would regain their national glory.
The game was littered with fouls as Cavan referee Joe McQuillan flashed 10 yellow cards and one red one but the dismissal of St Gall’s CJ McGourty looked harsh.
Cross shot out of the blocks to take control and stormed into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes. The goal, the first score of the match, was knocked home by dangerous Jamie Clarke after a defender fumbled a probing centre from Tony Kernan. With points popping over, Cross led by 1-5 to 0-2 at half-time.
The second half had an explosive start with the Rangers all but wrapping up victory inside two minutes. From the restart, Cross broke forward and Cunningham blasted to the St Gall’s net. The cheers hadn’t died down when the green flag went up again.
Veteran Oisín McConville was hauled down in the square for a penalty award which he, himself, blasted home to leave the winners 3-5 to 0-2 ahead.
Game over. When Michael Pollock ghosted in for a shock goal, following a centre from O’Hare, and Karl Stewart finished another O’Hare lob to the net the margin was cut to 3-7 to 2-3.
Manager Tony McEntee was not happy, despite his team’s victory.
“Not happy at all,” he stressed.“We dominated the game but the indiscipline in our game wasn’t good.
Scorers for Crossmaglen: A Cunningham 1-1, A Kernan 0-3 (2fs), J Clarke, O McConville 1-0p, S Finnegan, J Hanratty, D McKenna, T Kernan (45), S Kernan 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Gall’s: CJ McGourty 0-3 (2fs), K Stewart 1-1, M Pollock 1-0, K Niblock 0-1.
CROSSMAGLEN: P Hearty; J Morgan, P Kernan, P McKeown; A Kernan, D O’Callaghan, S Finnegan; J Hanratty, D McKenna; T Kernan, S Kernan, A Cunningham; J Clarke, F Hanratty, M McNamee.
Subs: B McKeown for P Kernan, (inj 28), O McConville for F Hanratty (ht), K Brennan for McNamee (39), M Aherne for J Hanratty, (inj. 51), M Lenaghan for Cunningham (65).
ST GALL’S: Ronan Gallagher; D Harbinson, C Brady, P Veronica; M Kelly, A McClean, S Kelly; D O’Hare, S Burke; T O’Neill, A Healy, K McGourty; CJ McGourty (0-3, 2f), K Niblock (0-1), M Pollock (1-0). Subs: K Stewart (1-1) for O’Neill (42), M McGowan for Healy (51), S McAreavey for Burke (61).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).