A large crowd gathered in Cullyhanna as the Senior Champions Crossmaglen opened their 2016 campaign. 2 minutes into the contest, Crossmaglen raced into a 0-03 to 0-00 lead and things started to look onimious for Dromintee who would have wanted to keep things tight in the opening exchanges.
With strong running play from Aaron Kernan and Johnny Hanratty fetching in the middle of the field, Dromintee found it difficult to get enough possession to get scores on the board. By the 15 minute the Rangers had moved into a 1-06 to 0-01 lead. Dromintee upped the speed of moving the ball into the forward at this stage and it helped create move space for their lively forward line and by the end of the half Cross’s lead was cut to Crossmagen 1-08 Dromintee 0-05
The 2nd half started with Dromintee hitting the back of the net and a point 1 minute later to bring the scores to 1-08 to 1-06 to Crossmaglen. Game on or was it! The thought of Crossmaglen beginning to lose their grip on the game were ruled out as 5 minutes later the scoreline read Crossmagle 2-08 Dromintee 1-06. The Cross men kept the scoreboard ticking over to leave it Crossmaglen 2-13 Dromintee 1-10 at the end.
Clann Éireann made their way through to the second round of the Senior championship, but there was a sense of relief in spite of a first half which saw them in absolute cruise control.
The Lurgan side had nine points on the scoreboard through Paul McKenna, Jack Wilson, Chris McCafferty, James McDaid, Ryan Henderson, Adam Kelly and Daniel McKavanagh before Madden finally got their first score after 20 minutes from Aron McKenna. However, Clann Éireann were in no mood for letting up and as Conor Bell played a one-two with Adam Kelly, he passed to the Ó running Paul McKenna who finished to the net to put Clann Éireann 1-9 to 0-1 ahead. A pointed free from Conor Grimley was met with a second three pointer for the Lurgan men with John McLoughlin finishing to the net. It looked all too easy for Clann Éireann, but Madden did respond before half time with an Aron McKenna goal to leave the score at half time 2-10 to 1-2.
Madden desperately needed a good start to the second half but it was Clann Éireann’s Chris McCafferty who hit the opening score of the half. Madden, who would have received a grilling at half time, finally sprung into life and a Kyle Morgan point was quickly followed by Aron McKenna’s second goal after he collected a high ball in from Conor Grimley. Madden were now in the game and winning the midfield battle , something which was desperately missing in the first half and a further score from Niall Smith was followed up by a third goal through Cillian Mallon to bring the score to Clann Éireann 2-12 Madden 3-4. Aron McKenna hit a further point and the ball soon found its way into the net again, but this time a free out was awarded as the Clann Éireann keeper was barged over the line. Points from Kyle Morgan and three from Conor Grimley brought Madden right back into the tie with 5 minutes to go. Madden however, would badly rue three missed frees in the dying minutes and a gilt-edged goal chance, which was pulled right across the goalline, and as that chance to equalise was spurned, Clann Éireann worked it up the pitch and the onrushing and unmarked Adam Kelly found the net to claim the win for the men from Lurgan.
Full time Clann Éireann 3-15 Madden 3-9
In the second of the double header at Pearse Óg, Tír na nÓg just held on to defeat Granemore. The game which was played out in poor conditions saw the teams trade scores early in the half before Granemore started to pull ahead, with a great point from Eoghan O’Neill putting them three ahead. Granemore suffered a blow five minutes before half time when they were reduced to 14 men after Darragh Rafferty picked up his second yellow and the sides went in level at the break 0-9 apiece.
Scores were traded again at the start of the second half but Tír na nÓg took the lead for the first time when a high ball in from Marc Davidson was flicked to the net by Paudie Judge. Tír na nÓg maintained the three point lead for most of the second half but with three minutes to go Christopher O’Connor pulled it back to just one point 1-12 to 0-14. In a titanic finish, Tír na nÓg pushed ahead by two again and went on a further attack, which was broke down by the Granemore defence. Granemore won a free and a high ball in on the square was finished to the net, but Tír na nÓg breathed a massive sigh of relief when the referee correctly called a square ball, meaning that Tír na nÓg go straight through to Round 2 while Granemore will head into the qualifiers.
Derrytrasna side Sarsfields, meanwhile, came out one point victors over Forkhill in Ballymacnab. Sarsfields who led by four at half time won through, thanks to three goals from Colin Stevenson, Mark Reynolds and Eamon Mc Geown. Full time Sarsfields 3-11 Forkhill 1-16