We'll look back some day and tell our grandchildren about Crossmaglen, the greatest club team there ever was 5 years ago

We'll look back some day and tell our grandchildren about Crossmaglen, the greatest club team there ever was

There are a lot of recurring themes in Jim McGuinness' book, Until Victory Always.

The former Donegal manager talks about breaking down attitudes, pre-conceived notions, ideas that other players, other counties were just better than them.

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"Why not us?"

He asks it over and over. He's sick of mediocrity. He's fed up with settling and accepting their supposed place in the status quo. He won't believe that Donegal can't touch greatness. He can't believe that. Why not us?

"We're going to win an Ulster championship," he told his players in a huddle before their first session on Dunfanaghy beach. They dared to vocalise those dreams.

23 years ago, Joe Kernan took over at Crossmaglen and he had no other intention but going the whole way to the top with them.

Joe Kernan Crossmaglen 23/2/1997

A decade had passed without so much as a county title for Cross' but Kernan was about to change the way everyone in south Armagh looked at the game forever. He was about to change this notion that his club couldn't be the greatest team in Ireland. Why not us?

Three years of work, successive under-21 titles, and Crossmaglen were about to embark on the most unprecedented and greatest period of dominance this sport has ever seen.

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Four years, three All-Ireland titles and Joe Kernan had laid the platform for 13 Orchard gongs in a row - 19 in 20 years. Six All-Irelands were accrued in that time and the black and amber outfit clinched their first ever Ulster title. And their second. And third, fourth, fifth and 11th.

Now, they've built a legacy.

Oison Mc Conville 29/11/2015

From absolutely nowhere, Joe Kernan and a pool of talented players decided to stop reading history and started making it instead. They worked their balls off and recreated themselves as one of the greatest forces in sport. And they did that from nothing.

They did it on a dream. And conviction to follow it through.

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Now, relative dry spells for Crossmaglen is going two years without a provincial title.

The beast is now insatiable because it believes it has a right to be the best. Why shouldn't it? Why shouldn't anyone?

Two years with no Ulster medal and the Cross' players were frothing at the mouth, caged and teased. They had a smell of blood and, by God, they wouldn't stop until they ate someone alive and ate it whole. All this time later.

10 Ulster medals couldn't satisfy them. Six All-Irelands didn't. They keep going on to the next one led there by the evergreen Paul Hearty who almost solely encapsulates that unquenchable thirst.

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Paul Hearty celebrates winning 29/11/2015

Crossmaglen are no superhumans.

They're not machines and, Jesus, they sweat and bleed more than anyone. They're just men.

But they're men who will stop at nothing to keep their parish at the top, to keep it where it belongs. And it only belongs there because they put it there. Because they believed.

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They're just men who have broken boundaries, stepped up and inspired the rest of us.

They're just men who never settle for less.

"They can because they think they can."

Why not us?

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