Ulster Club SFC final: Crossmaglen 2-11 Burren 0-10
All-Ireland champions Crossmaglen collected a ninth Ulster title with a convincing seven points win over Burren at the Athletic Grounds.
The Armagh champions displayed all their experience and know-how to snuff out the challenge of their 14-man opponents, who had to play more than three quarters of the game with 14 men, following the straight red card dismissal of midfielder Anton McArdle.
Goals from Oisin McConville and Kyle Carragher shattered the dreams of a Burren side looking to revisit to the glory days of the eighties, when they themselves were twice crowned All-Ireland champions.
In front of a crowd of 8,624, Jamie Clarke laid on a first half exhibition, showing the full range of skills that make him such a special player, his ball-winning ability helping to showcase vision and an awesome range of passing.
He swept over a delightful point and was at the centre of the moves that saw Aaron Cunningham, and David McKenna hit the target for a 0-4 to 0-0 lead.
Burren’s stuttering challenge received a hammer blow in the 14th minute when their chief ball-winner, midfielder Anton McArdle, received a straight red card following an incident involving Tony Kernan.
But the Down champions responded in positive fashion, with Donal O’Hare and Conal McGovern hitting points.
Crossmaglen got themselves back in control when Clarke provided the perfect pass for Oisin McConville to step around goalkeeper Cathal Murdock and plant the ball in the net.
O’Hare kept Burren in touch from placed balls, but it was Cross who led by 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval.
But the Mourne men, once they got the wind in their backs in the second half, staged a spirited revival with wing backs Kevin McKernan and David McEntee pushing forward with purpose.
McKernan hammered over a marvellous point, and O’Hare added two more frees as the gap was trimmed back to three points.
But Cross regrouped, and squeezed the Burren attack out of the game. Little more was seen of Clarke, but McConville and Tony Kernan,, from a ’45, helped push them six points clear with seven minutes to play.
And they killed the game off in the 56th minute when the Burren defence failed to deal with Paul McKeown’s long delivery, and substitute Kyle Carragher go the slightest of touches to guide the ball to the net.
Crossmaglen: P Hearty, J Morgan, P Kernan, P McKeown, A Kernan (0-2, 2f), D O’Callaghan, S Finnegan, J Hanratty, D McKenna (0-1), T Kernan (0-1, ’45), S Kernan (0-1, f), A Cunningham (0-2), J Clarke (0-2), O McConville (1-2, 2f), M McNamee.
Subs: F Hanratty for McNamee, K Carragher (1-0) for McConville, M Aherne for F Hanratty, K Brennan for Cunningham
Burren: C Murdock, R McGovern, D McCartan, G McCartan, K McKernan (0-1), Ciaran McGovern, D McEntee, A Higgins, A McArdle, Conal McGovern (0-1), S Murdock, P Poland, D O’Hare (0-7, 6f), J McGovern (0-1), S McArdle.
Subs: E Toner for Poland, C Byrne for S Murdock, G Sands for Higgins
Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh).