By Manus Loughran
Keady and Crossmaglen II both came into this match as strong contenders for the Junior Championship, but Keady put in a great display and came out on top quite comfortably.
Keady who were relegated to Junior football just last year, had a very strong first half and outplayed Crossmaglen for large periods. Things got soon got a little bit complacent for the leaders after they built a six point lead and Cross give them a bit of a scare at times. This really shouldn’t have happened as Keady were much the stronger side and could have put the game away early, they did manage to hold on though and came out on top 1-12 to 0-11 in the end.
Patrick McEnaney got things off to a quick start with a point from the right, but Keady responded immediately and got an equalising point through Conor Hughes.
Keady almost snatched an early goal when they went on a speedy attack, Ryan Comiskey fed the final ball through to Conor Corvan but his shot was saved by Cross keeper Kevin McKeown.
They did take the lead soon after though, the ever dangerous Ryan McGale showed his hunger to a rise for a lumped pass close to goal, and quickly slotted over before any defenders could get close enough to tackle.
McGale added another with a delightful point from the right wing, the Keady full forward hit a cheeky shot with the outside of his foot and the ball swerved right between the sticks to put Keady ahead by two.
This two point lead soon stretched into a five point lead after just 11 minutes of play. Scores coming from Paul Murray, Conor Corvan and Ryan McGale made it 0-06 to 0-01, the latter of those scores was quite superb. It was a six man move with Corvan putting the final pass through to McGale who was never going to miss.
Cross got their second of the match on the 16th minute. Padraig Stuttard was brought down and Micheal Trainor confidently converted the free. Tommy Muldoon added to their tally immediately after with a fine score distance.
Muldoon’s point seemed to lift Cross and Patrick McEnaney put just three in it on the 23rd minute with another free kick.
Keady had yet another goal chance a few minutes before half time, a nice lay off from Dean Nugent who had only been on the field for a few minutes, put Conor Corvan through but his shot fizzed over after being put under pressure from the Cross defence.
Keady restored their lead to five again on the 31st minute. Shane Mone went on a long determined run up the right and kindly passed to Stephen Renaghan, he had his shot blocked but the ball fell to McGale who put it over the bar.
Liam O’Neill made it 0-09 to 0-05 at the break. The Cross man made a run up the wing and sharply turned inside before slotting over with his left.
O’Neill who started in corner back was moved further up the field in the second half as the Cross management team decided he could be a deadlier weapon in attack. Patrick McEnaney, who had a good game throughout, scored a free kick to give Cross the second half start they wanted.
Unfortunately for them this positive start was rattled with a Keady goal minutes later. Conor Corvan struck the bar with a good effort and the ball fell straight to Ryan McGale who was standing yards from goal unmarked. There was nothing McKeown could have possibly done about this one, as McGale lashed the ball into the net.
Crossmaglen didn’t let this knock them over, and they hit four unanswered scores in 11 minutes. These points came from James Coyle, Liam O’Neill and Micheal Trainor (2). They did suffer a small blow on the 45th minute, when Tommy Muldoon who was having a good game got a black card for an off the ball challenge on Stephen Renaghan.
Alan Farrelly put just one point in it when he grabbed a score on the 47th minute. It was starting to look like Keady were on the brink of crumbling as their six point lead seemed like a lifetime ago.
Each team grabbed another point as the score sat at 0-12 to 1-10 in Keady’s favour with ten minutes to go. Keady got their act together and rediscovered their rhythm, Dean Nugent and McCabe put three in it again with crucial points.
McCabe almost scored Keady’s second goal only to be denied again by Cross keeper Kevin McKeown who was having one outstanding game.
The final score of the match came from Sean McCabe who made a very big impact after coming off the bench in the second half. It was a quick counter as Cross pushed for a late goal. Dean Nugent used his pace to break free, and found Stephen Renaghan, who knocked the ball on to McCabe and he had enough space to make it 1-13 to 0-12.
This was a strong performance from Keady and they dominated for large periods of the game, but this youthful side lacked a little bit of composure and threw away large leads when they should have been building their tally. They’ll certainly want to asses this issue before their Semi Final.
CROSSMAGLEN II: Kevin McKeown; Cathal McNamee, Diarmuid McConville, Liam O’Neil (0-02); Jamie Kearns, Caolan Short, Gavin Rooney; Alan Farrelly (0-01), Gene Hanratty; Padraig Stuttard, Tommy Muldoon (0-01), Micheal Trainor (0-04); James Coyle (0-01), Patrick McEnaney (0-03), Sean McConville.
No substitute scorers
KEADY: Steven Bellew; Matthew Green, Stephen Murray, Shane Mone; James King, Raymond Mullen, Stephen Renaghan (0-01); John Corvan, Paul Murray (0-01); Ryan Comiskey (0-01), Conor Corvan (0-02), Martin Cunningham; Kieron Hughes, Ryan McGale (1-04), Conor Hughes (0-01).
Substitute scorers: Sean McCabe (0-02), Dean Nugent (0-01).