The Numbers View – Crossmaglen v Maghery

With Shaun Casey

Crossmaglen v Maghery

Senior Championship Round 2 – 25-08-17

The County Champions, Maghery proved their worth on Friday evening with a convincing 3-7 to 1-8 win over former champions Crossmaglen. Maghery overcame the furious battle which Crossmaglen brought in the second half, after trailing by 4 points with 20 minutes remaining. A combination of magic and madness overtook the Athletic Grounds. Two of Maghery’s goals came from long balls into the box, floating over the goalie’s head and ending up in the back of the net.

Maghery set out their stall early with the first four points of the game. Dominating the aerial battle in centerfield with James Lavery and Ben Crealey winning the games first 5 kick outs. Stefan Forker (free), Johnny Montgomery (45) and Aidan Forker (free) all opened their accounts with points from the dead ball before David Lavery’s point from play left the score 0-4 to 0-0 with 7 minutes played. 3 of the 4 Maghery points originated from kickouts.

Crossmaglen’s finishing had let them down as they kicked 5 wides out of their opening 6 shots. Before finally splitting the posts with a Kyle Carragher effort. Jamie Clarke was then introduced adding some much needed penetration to Crossmaglen’s attack, providing an assist for Stephen Kernan’s point.

Crossmaglen began to hold their own in the middle of the field. Winning 7/9 Maghery kickouts. Oisin O’Neill became more prominent having 12 possessions in the opening 20 minutes. However it was the younger O’Neill brother, Rian who brought Cross back to within a point of the Champions with a converted free on the 23rd minute. This proved to be the final score of the half, leaving Maghery ahead 0-4 to 0-3.

Half Time Overview

Crossmaglen’s ability to break the ball in the middle of the field along with their tenacious tackling provided 2 of their 3 points from turnovers. Having 23 attacks they only converted 25% of their 12 shots to scores. Attempting to get Rian O’Neill on the ball, 13 of their 23 attacks came up the right hand side of the field he was occupying although he only had 5 possessions of the ball.

Maghery’s defence were on top for a lot of the first half with 10 turnovers coming in their defensive third. Only leading to 1 of their 4 scores. Maghery scored all of their points in the opening 7 minutes of the match as they won 100% of the first 5 kick outs. They struggled for the remainder of the half, winning just 4/14 kickouts.

2nd Half

A sluggish start to the first half was not to be repeated by Crossmaglen as they provided the first three scores of the second half. Aaron Kernan, Jamie Clarke and Rian O’Neill all played pivotal roles in putting their side in front for the first time. Kernan converting a free to initially level the game.

It was the next two plays that pushed Cross further ahead. The dangerous Jamie Clarke rattling the back of Maghery’s net, before being fouled in their next attack. Allowing Rian O’Neill to push his side into a commanding 1-5 to 0-4 lead, with 8 minutes played in the second half.

Crossmaglen’s defence were also on top during this period as they turned over 80% of Maghery’s first 5 attacks. It took Maghery until the 15th minute of the second half to register a point, Stefan Forker kicking his side’s 5th of the evening. Maghery had converted 31% of their 18 shots by this period in the game. 4 going wide and 5 dropping short.

Maghery would not complain about their next shot dropping short. A long ball into the full forward line by James Lavery sailed over Paul Hearty’s head and nestled into the bottom corner of the Crossmaglen goal. Maghery’s speedy half back line caused numerous problems for Cross all evening and it was centre half back Stephen Cusack who nudged his side ahead 1-6 to 1-5.

Cross answered superbly with a well taken Paul Hughes point to level the game with 7 minutes remaining. Although still in the game, Crossmaglen seemed to lose their way as the champions began to push for home. Again a high ball troubled the Cross full back line with Ronan Lappin, now playing full forward, scoring the game’s third goal to put his side 3 ahead.

Crossmaglen now seemingly rattled, Hearty misplaced his kick out and played it over the side line. Providing the scene for one of the most unusual goals seen in the Athletic Grounds. Aidan Forker’s shot from the sideline dropped short but once again flew over the Cross defence and keeper to end up in the back of the net.

A brilliant long range point from Ben Crealey followed leaving Maghery 3-7 to 1-6 ahead. Cross managed to score the final two points of the game through Aaron Kernan and substitute Paul McKeown. However, it was too little too late as the Champions Maghery now march on to the quarter finals, with Crossmaglen facing into the final round of the back door.

Full Time Overview

Although the score line may suggest different, the statistics show how close a game these two heavyweights played out. The sides were level entering the final 10 minutes of the match. Each team had 34 turnovers. Crossmaglen marginally won more kickouts, winning 18 while Maghery won 17.

Although Crossmaglen had 6 more attacks than their opponents, it was Maghery’s improved finishing in front of goal, along with a bit of luck, which told the tale in the second half. They converted 60% of their 10 shots into scores, compared to their 33% shot accuracy in the first half. 60% of their scores came from kick outs.

Crossmaglen’s shot accuracy let them down as they only converted 36% of 25 scoring opportunities; kicking 9 wides and 4 short. Crossmaglen continued to attack down the right hand side of the pitch,  23 of their 44 attacks coming through this wing. Maghery’s defence, after a poor start to the second half, came good as they turned the former champs over 12 times in the second half.

Teams List

Crossmaglen: Paul Hearty, Aidan Rushe, Rico Kelly, James Morgan, Aaron Kernan (0-2), Caolan Dillon, Paul Hughes (0-1), Stephen Morris, Alan Farrelly, Martin Aherne, Oisin O’Neill, Stephen Kernan (0-1), Rian O’Neill (0-2), Stephen Finnegan, Kyle Carragher (0-1). Subs: Jamie Clarke (1-0) for M. Aherne, Padraig Stuttard for A. Farrelly, Johnny Hanratty for S. Morris, Paul McKeown (0-1) for C. Dillon.

Maghery: Johnny Montgomery (0-1), Kevin Nugent, Oisin Lappin, Michael Higgins, Brendan Haveron, Stephen Cusack (0-1), David Lavery (0-1), James Lavery (1-0), Ben Crealey (0-1), Brian Fox, Conor Mackle, Ronan Lappin (1-0), Seamus Forker, Stefan Forker (0-2), Aidan Forker (1-1). Subs: Paul Forker for Seamus Forker, Shea Tennyson for C. Mackle, Daniel Higgins for M. Higgins, Niall Forker for Brian Fox.