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12th Nov 2023

“I couldn’t believe how easy they won it” – Peter Canavan surprised by Cross capitulation

Niall McIntyre

Trillick became the first Tyrone team in seven years to win an Ulster senior club championship match when they defeated Crossmaglen Rangers by 0-9 to 0-4 on Saturday evening.

Jody Gormley’s side got off to a sluggish start in the game, kicking just two points in the first half but they completely dominated after the interval, holding Crossmaglen scoreless in the second half.

Minus key players Mattie Donnelly and Mickey Gallagher, both of whom are out with long-term injuries, Trillick showed their strength-in-depth with a brilliant second half display. Ryan Gray, Richie Donnelly and the tricky James Garrity were most impressive for Trillick, kicking two points each from play.

Trillick will now advance to the semi-finals of the competition, where they will play the winners of Scotstown and Kilcoo.

Speaking to the RTÉ panel after the game, Richie Donnelly says that their slow start may have been a case of having to blow off the cobwebs on the back of their Tyrone win.

“The psychological edge and the standards might have dropped subconsciously, without even thinking and I think that showed, including myself in the first half, hitting a shot in the first half that wasn’t on.”

But they rose the standards once again in the second half, with fellow Tyrone man Peter Canavan hailing the team for their composure.

“I criticised Trillick with how wayward they were in the first half, two out of nine in the first half, but it was seven out of ten in the second half. So that was composure and that was clinical,” said Canavan.

On the other hand, Crossmaglen Rangers never got going and this is the third campaign in a row where they’ve lost first time out in Ulster, having lost to Ballybay of Monaghan last year, also by five points. They lost to Clontibret by a point back in 2019 as in 2018, they lost the semi-final by seven to Donegal’s Gaoth Dobhair.

Peter Canavan feels that the Armagh championship feels that the Armagh championship may not be overly competitive, especially when compared to Tyrone.

“The other thing is Trillick are used to playing really competitive games,” said Canavan.

Every one of their games in Tyrone was highly competitive. I don’t know if you could say the same for Cross.

“At half-time, yes you would have thought Cross were more aggressive and tenacious, but they weren’t able to sustain that, and once Trillick got a grip of the game, they weren’t going to let go.”

“I couldn’t believe how easy they won it,” he added.

“In the third quarter especially, they completely dominated.

“There was a change in mindset. There’s no doubt about that, they went after Cross. In the first half, I thought they probably showed too much respect, allowing them to win their kick-outs. Then in the second half, they pushed on them, won the first two kick-outs and had a go.”

Speaking on commentary, former Down player Marty Clarke says that they’ll have to go back to the drawing board now, having exited ‘without firing a shot.’

“Crossmaglen are going to have to have a look again at things now. It’s a case of back to the drawing board for them. Obviously, they’ve won the Armagh championship but as good as Trillick were this evening, Crossmaglen went out without firing a shot.”

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