By Manus Loughran
Crossmaglen Rangers sent out a statement when they defeated Lurgan side Sarsfields by 11 points in their Senior Championship encounter.
Crossmaglen’s John Murtagh got his side off to an ideal by striking a goal and a close range point in the opening minute of play. Cross never looked back from there and sailed their way into the second round draw, the South Armagh side put in a great team performance and had ten separate scorers in the match, the final score was 3-16 to 1-11.
Sarsfields couldn’t cope with Crossmaglen’s rapid movement straight from the start and were completely rattle by Murtagh’s early scores.
The underdogs got their first point of the game through a free kick from Johnny Reynolds. Paul McGeown added their second minutes later as they tried their best to keep the deficit to a reasonable margin.
Kyle Carragher almost grabbed a second goal for Cross 11 minutes into the game when he burst through the Sarsfields defence, but his effort was superbly saved by Darren McAvoy.
Unfortuately for Sarsfields, McAvoy couldn’t do anything about John Murtagh’s strike on the 14th minute. The Crossmaglen danger man picked the ball up 13 yards from goal, beat two defenders and smashed the ball into the roof of the Sarsfield goal.
Crossmaglen had no real trouble holding on to their lead in the first half, the only real dangerous moment Sarsfields produced was when Colin Stevenson was put through on goal by Eimead Murray, but his powerful shot was straight at Paul Hearty.
James Morgan and Paul McGeown both received black cards for separate off the ball incidents just as things got heated just before half time.
Tony Kernan scored Crossmaglen’s first point in the second half with an accurate shot to put the current champions ahead by nine.
Crossmaglen full back Brendan McKeown was sent off when received his second yellow card for dragging Thomas McAlinden to the ground.
They certainly didn’t let that red card knock them back, and got a third goal on the 51st minute. Michael McNamee showed great skill and control to dodge his way through the Sarsfields defence and calmly rolled the ball past Darren McAvoy.
Sarsfields best player on the night Michael Stevenson grabbed a late consolation goal for his side, this took Stevenson’s tally to 1-05.
Crossmaglen won the game by 11 points and showed no real weaknesses. They will now face Carrickcruppen in two weeks time, and will certainly go into that game with a high morale after this impressive victory.
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS: Paul Hearty; James Morgan, Brendan McKeown, Paul Hughes; Martin Aherne (0-02), Paul McKeown, Aaron Kernan (0-01); Johnny Hanratty (0-01), Rico Kelly (0-01); Tony Kernan (0-03), Stephen Finnegan (0-01), Callum Cumiskey (0-03); John Murtagh (2-02), Michael McNamee (1-00), Kyle Carragher (0-02).
No substitute scorers
SARSFIELDS: Darren McAvoy; Kieran Kerr, Paul Magee, Declan Breen; Johnny Reynolds (0-02),Kevin O’Hagan, Mark Reynolds; Brian Lavery, Eamon McGeown (0-01); Michael Stevenson (1-05), Paul McGaughey, Eimead Murray; Colin Stevenson, Paul McGeown (0-02), Paul McGeown, Thomas McAlinden (0-01).
No substitute scorers.