By Paddy McIlwaine
When Colm McDomhnaill’s full time whistle sounded at Corrigan Park amidst scenes of wild celebrations today, those tuning into the result from the Athletics ground would surely have expected the name of Crossmaglen Rangers to come up as their first round opponents in Ulster in two weeks-time.
The Rangers had won more Armagh championships than most of us have had hot dinners while their opponents at the Athletics Ground, Clann Éireann hadn’t won an Armagh Senior title for 53 years but, like Kickham’s Creggan they did the business today.
Clan Eireann came from 0-11 to 0-5 down to the former All Ireland club champions to produce the come-backs of all come-backs and run out 2-12 to 0-16 winners and earn themselves a place against Creggan in the first round of Ulster on the 5th December.
Conor Turbitt was superb for the new Armagh champions, kicking 0-8 over the hour and will already have been noted as someone who will need special attention by Gerard McNulty and his backroom team.
Substitute Jack Conlon scored a goal in the 49th minute and then fellow substitute Conlon saw his speculative long range shot strike the inside of a post before trickling over the line and Turbitt’s eighth point of the game secured victory for the underdogs.
Today’s win for Kickham’s over Aghagallon ended an even longer wait for the new Antrim champions. It’s been 67 years since Creggan last lifted the McNamee Cup so those celebrations were fully justified and like Clann Éireann, are likely to go on into the coming week.
Gerard McNulty and his team though will already be reflecting on a first bid at Ulster, and while he is unlikely to admit it, he will surely be happy with the result in Armagh.
Like Creggan, Ulster will mark new ground for the newly crowned Orchard champions and Corrigan Park will provide them with a hostile atmosphere and the Kickham’s, on this year’s form will be in with a fighting chance of advancing to the semi-final.
I spent most of today’s game wrestling with an umbrella and umbrella stand as I struggled to get the shots I wanted but, as usual the brother, Bert and the rest of the team came up with the winning shots.
Conditions for photography, like football were not great today but I’m going to indulge myself with some of the shots I did get and publish them for your enjoyment.
In the meantime well done to Creggan and particularly to my good friend Tony McCollum and his interview with Jerome Quinn after the game was great to watch and captured the emotions of many long serving Kickham’s supporters.
Commiserations to St. Mary’s Aghagallon. I’ve watched this group of players for many years and their progression and the progression of the club has been remarkable. As I suggested during the week, ‘you might have to lose one to win one’ and I’m sure they will be back stronger than ever next year and hopefully for them, their first Senior Championship success will not be too far away.