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Rampant Crossmaglen kill off Kilcoo for Ulster SFC final showdown with Scotstown

A rampant Crossmaglen are on course for an eleventh Ulster Senior Football Championship final showdown after beating rivals Kilcoo by four points at Pairc Esler.

The Armagh men ran riot in a second half which saw them kill off Kilcoo’s hopes of finally lifting an Ulster title.

Crossmaglen ran out 0-12 to 0-8 winners and will now face Scotstown in the final.

Remarkably, Cross’ have never lost a provincial final.

Kilcoo were first on the scoresheet with a well taken point in the first minute, but suffered a potentially game-changing loss when Paul Devlin was carried off with a bad injury.

But the Co Down contenders battled on in a bleak afternoon at Pairc Esler and the first half finished all square at three points apiece after Tony Kernan equalised from a free.

Crossmaglen meant business in the second half and went ahead for the first time courtesy of a superb score from Oisin O’Neill, followed by two more in quick succession.

It was all about Cross’ as the game progressed and John McEntee and Oisin McConville’s well seasoned outfit had hit six in a row without reply.

Kilcoo took their first point in 30 minutes but Tony Kernan was quick to reply and the Armagh champions were coasting along. Another point for Kilcoo but Crossmaglen again replied and they were sitting five points clear with just 10 minutes remaining.

Jamie Clarke, returned from the United States, did not feature on the starting line-up but was among the substitutes for the all-important encounter.

With Kilcoo down to 14 men, Clarke was brought on in the last two minutes to share in another momentous Ulster Club outing for the Orchard County hopefuls.

It ended with Crossmaglen easing through by a full four points clear. The result was never in doubt.

Crossmaglen, who have won 10 Ulster Club titles in the past two decades, are now on course to make it number 11.

The game was always going to be a ferocious contest as the rivalries run thick between the neighbouring county sides.

Three years ago, Crossmaglen beat the County Down side on a six-point margin but it was a match that will be remembered more for the controversy, when Aaron Cunningham reported being racially abused and a Kilcoo player was subsequently banned.

But the following year, in 2013, Kilcoo bounced back and inflicted Crossmaglen’s biggest loss in the competition in 13 years, defeating them on a 3-10 to 1-8 scoreline.

Crossmaglen, despite a shaky start, were in determined form and will now face four-time champions Scotstown in the final.

The Monaghan men beat Tyrone underdogs Trillick on a slender two point margin, 2-09 to 2-07, at Brewster Park, to book their place.

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