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02nd Nov 2019

Crossmaglen Rangers: Where there’s always another player coming

Niall McIntyre

The minute we got up to the Crossmaglen Rangers clubhouse, Margaret McConville had a cup of tea in front of us.

And Margaret McShane brought the homemade buns. Joe and Aaron Kernan were soon to arrive and it wasn’t long before the chat was flowing.

Crossmaglen Rangers is a football club, but it’s the life and soul of this South Armagh community as well. Years separate Aaron Kernan and the two Margarets, but they get on like teammates.

McConville was keen to let us know that a cup of tea and some of these homemade buns make up the Friday night ritual before games.

“Only championship games,” she says. “It’s been going for nearly 25 years now.”

There’s magic in those cups of tea. In the last 25 years, Crossmaglen Rangers have been far and away the most successful club in this land.

Joe Kernan was the man who started it all, having managed his beloved Cross to three All-Irelands in four fantastic years. He’s still involved, on the board, in the committee meetings. This place, St Oliver Plunkett Park, is still his second home.

His son Aaron has been there all the way. Has 16 Armagh championships to his name and is club captain this year as they attempt to conquer Ulster again. He took a break from the family estate agents in Cross to have a chat with us. He’s hungry as ever.

It seems like Margaret McConville will always be there. She’s the president, and the face of Crossmaglen Rangers GAC. She recalls watching the team win in 1947, when her brother captained Cross to Armagh glory. She watched on with pride as her son Oisin became one of Ireland’s greatest ever club players.

She looks on nowadays too, with her three grandsons Rian, Oisin O’Neill and Cian McConville ripping defences to shreds in the famous black and amber jersey.

She’s one of the warmest people you could hope to meet. Watch the great Crossmaglen Rangers story here, as told by Joe, Aaron and Margaret.

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