Clontibret edge out Crossmaglen in Ulster Club SFC
AIB Ulster Club SFC quarter-final
CLONTIBRET 0-10 CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS 0-9
By Orla Bannon at the Athletic Grounds
Crossmaglen legend John McEntee masterminded a Clontibret victory against the club that made him with the Monaghan champions advancing to the semi-finals of the AIB Ulster club SFC.
It had to be an evening of mixed feelings for McEntee, who lorded the Ulster club stage for so long in the black and amber, but his team did him proud.
Clontibret, who led 0-7 to 0-3 at the break, just about withstood the anticipated second-half fightback from Cross who scored three of the last four points to set up a tense finish in front of 4,564 in the Athletic Grounds.
Rian O'Neill's frees brought Cross, who played with a lot more intensity and urgency in the second half, back into it but Clontibret survived the aerial raids into their square.
Goalkeeper Darren McDonnell rode his luck at times, Clontibret finishing with 14 players with Michael P O'Dowd sent-off after picking up a black card in injury time, having earlier been booked.
Clontibret dominated the first half, fully deserving their 0-7 to 0-3 half-time lead.
While Cross were rushing their shots, taking wrong options and kicking seven wides by the break, Clontibret were composed, patient and looking like the hungrier side.
The Monaghan champions were already 0-4 to 0-0 ahead by the time Aaron Kernan slung over a free for Cross' first score in the 15th minute.
Pauric Boyle scored twice for Clontibret, as did Conor McManus who also nailed the best score of the game in the fifth minute, a superb point off his left while going away from the posts.
He also thumped over a monster free from around 52metres with Clontibret really beginning to warm to their task.
Strong running through the middle helped Michael P O'Dowd stretch their lead, he swivelled in a crowded area to point his second before half-time.
Crossmaglen's first point from play didn't come until the 26th minute through Kyle Carragher and although Rian O'Neill stroked another over in stoppage time, the visitors still held a healthy four-point lead coming out for the second half.
Oisin O'Neill and Tony Kernan gave Cross hope at the start of the second half but the Armagh champions kicked too many wides – 13 in total – and Conor McManus punished several fouls at the other end.
Cross 'keeper Tiernan McConville pulled off a great save from McManus but Clontibret dragged themselves over the line to set up a semi-final with either Castlerahan (Cavan) or Naomh Conaill (Donegal).
Scorers for Clontibret: Conor McManus 0-6 (5f) Pauric Boyle 0-2, Michael P O'Dowd 0-2.
Scorers for Crossmaglen Rangers: Rian O'Neill 0-3 (2f), Oisin O'Neill 0-2 (1f), Kyle Carragher 0-1, Tony Kernan 0-1, Aaron Kernan 0-1 (f), Paul Hughes 0-1
Clontibret: Darren McDonnell; Conor Doyle, Conor Boyle, Liam Savage; Jack Gormley, Dessie Mone, Colum Greenan; Francis Hughes, Killian Lavelle; David Savage, Michael P O'Dowd, Brian Greenan; Pauric Boyle, Vinnie Corey, Conor McManus. Subs: Darragh Hughes for P Boyle (48), Kiernan Greenan for Hughes (60), Eoin McGuigan for Savage (60)
Crossmaglen Rangers: Tiernan McConville; Paul Hughes, Rico Kelly, Paul McKeown; Aaron Kernan, Callum Cumiskey, Christopher Crowley; Stephen Morris, Alan Farrelly; Johnny Hanratty, Oisin O'Neill, Colin O'Connor; Cian McConville, Rian O'Neill, Kyle Carragher. Subs: Tony Kernan for Hanratty (HT), Padraig Stuttard for McKeown (HT), Mel Boyce for Farrelly (43), Johnny McKeever for O'Connor (50)
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)