Crossmaglen Rangers GAC


Crossmaglen Rangers GAC
Crossmaglen Rangers
Raonaithe Crois Mhic Lionnáin
Founded: 1887
County: Armagh
Nickname: The Cross
Club colours: Amber and Black
Grounds: St. Oliver Plunkett Park
Coordinates: 54°04′29.68″N 6°36′32.86″W / 54.0749111°N 6.6091278°W / 54.0749111; -6.6091278Coordinates: 54°04′29.68″N 6°36′32.86″W / 54.0749111°N 6.6091278°W / 54.0749111; -6.6091278
Playing kits
Standard colours
Senior Club Championships
All Ireland Ulster
champions
Armagh
champions
Football : 5 8 39

Crossmaglen Rangers G.A.C is a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club from Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. They cater for Gaelic football and camogie. Their home football ground is St. Oliver Plunkett Park which was opened in 1959. In 1971 the British Army took possession of a portion of the ground despite opposition from the club and the Irish Government, and this led to a controversy regarding the British Army's conduct.[1] [2]

The club have won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship on five occasions and are current champions. They have won the Ulster Senior Club Football Championship eight times and won the Armagh Senior Football Championship 39 times.

Contents

History

Founded in 1887 as Crossmaglen Red Hands, the club did not acquire its present name until 1909. The Red Hands won their first Armagh Senior Football Championship in 1906. After political controversy, the Red Hands split, and a new club called Creggan Rovers emerged, and won the 1908 championship. The modern Crossmaglen Rangers club started only in 1909. Rangers soon made their presence felt, however, winning the championship in 1911, 1912 and 1913.[3][4]

The Armagh championship was not played from 1919 to 1922, at the time of the Irish War of Independence. When it resumed, however, Rangers won five successive Armagh senior championships, completing the first five-in-a-row in the competition. This feat went unequalled until Crossmaglen achieved it again in 2000. They had further titles in 1933, 1936 and 1937. The 1940s were to prove a more frustrating decade for Crossmaglen, their only county senior title being in 1947. The 1950s were still more difficult for Crossmaglen, being the only decade of the twentieth century in which they did not win an Armagh Championship.[4]

After this, however, the club's fortunes revived considerably. Rangers captured five Championships in the 1960s (1960, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967), in addition to several league titles. Further Armagh Championships were won in 1970, 1975, 1977, 1983 and 1986.[4]

Roll of Honour

Senior

1997, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2011.

1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010.

1906, 1908, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1947, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1975, 1977, 1983, 1986, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010

Recent successes

Crossmaglen Rangers regained the County title in 1996 after a lapse of ten years, beating Clan Na Gael 3-12 to 1-4. Since then, they have been completely dominant in the tournament, retaining the title every year since. In this period, they have won nine Ulster Senior Club Football Championships (1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 ,2010 and 2011). They have gone on to win the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship five times, in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2007 and 2011

The club fields underage teams from U-10 to U-21 as well as Senior, Junior and 'B' teams. Ladies football and camogie are played in the club, with the camogie teams in particular achieving much success in recent years. The seniors play in the Armagh Senior Leagues and Armagh Senior Football Championship. Crossmaglen have a number of players on the current Armagh county team, including Paul Hearty, Aaron Kernan, Stephen Kernan, Paul Kernan, Tony Kernan and Francie Bellew. Oisin McConville who is the all time top scorer in Ulster Senior Championship history also plays for them and holds a national record for playing 103 Armagh Senior Football Championship games in succession.

On 19 October 2008 the club won their 13th Armagh Senior Club Football Championship in a row by defeating Pearse Óg. This is a national record.

This unbeaten run came to an end in 2009 when they were defeated by eventual champions Pearse Óg at the quarter final stage.

In 2010 a new look Crossmaglen team emerged and regained the Armagh Senior title, they then went on and regained the Ulster Championship before completing the season with yet another All Ireland Title in 2011 defeating St. Bridgids from Roscommon in the final to claim their fifth All Ireland club title.[5]

St. Oliver Plunkett Park

Páirc Oilobheir Pluinceid Crois Mhic Lionnáin (St. Oliver Plunkett Park) was officially opened on 19 April 1959. It is the home football ground of Crossmaglen Rangers, and Armagh have played inter-county games there.

During 'The Troubles', part of Crossmaglen's property at Páirc Oilobheir Pluinceid Crois Mhic Lionnáin was requisitioned by the British Army for a military base despite attempts by the club and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to prevent it.[2]

The club claim to have suffered "blatant persecution" and that "not alone was the pitch partially occupied but the entrance to the playing area was turned into a quagmire by heavy army vehicles. Harassment of club officials was constant and helicopters regularly landed on the pitch even during games."[6]

In 1977, then GAA President Conor Ó Murchú wrote to Taoiseach Jack Lynch after meeting with him to discuss the issue; “The occupation of the property by the British Army, with the constant damage and deliberate destruction of the property plus the harassment and interference with the members of the GAA and the community, constitute an appalling deprivation of the rights of the community.

“I am appealing to you to bring your own good offices to bear on the powers that be, i.e. I take it the British Government at present, to (1) withdraw the troops from using the property, (2) give back full possession to the club, the rightful owners of the property, (3) pay adequate compensation for damage to pitch, property and the community.”[1]

The conduct of the British Army was also heavily criticised in Irish parliamentary debate. For example, Senator Kiely said that "The intimidation and the harassment of the members of the Crossmaglen GAA Rangers Club by members of the British Army also promotes anger and resentment. The members of the GAA club and the community [1010] in general are most tolerant and patient to be putting up with such harassment and intimidation. There are occasions when the British Army close both entrances to the pitch and deny members entry to their own property.

During a football match the British Army took their tanks to a gate which the club had been given an assurance would be used only when the base was under attack. Recently, it was brought to our notice that a wall was knocked down. They drove their tank through the wall when they could have gone through the gate. There is an alternative entrance to the base through some educational property owned by the British Government. It would be more convenient and more accessible to enter the Army base through that ground rather than through the entrance to the Crossmaglen GAA Rangers field — St. Oliver Plunkett Park. They have surrounded supporters on the pitch, abused and threatened them and asked them for identification. On one occasion a ladies' keep-fit class was being conducted in the club hall in St. Oliver Plunkett Park; five members of the RUC forced their way into the hall and asked the ladies for the club register. On another occasion when a function was being held in the hall and at about 9 p.m. boys under 14 and 16 years of age were physically beaten outside the gate on the roadway. When people objected to this physical beating they were arrested and the reverend canon in Crossmaglen had to intercede on their behalf with the RUC/Army commanders in Crossmaglen.".[2]

In February 2007, the British Army announced its intention to decommission its army watchtower and withdraw soldiers from the local Police Service of Northern Ireland station as part of Operation Banner.[7]

In recent times, the club has purchased more land to develop additional senior standard playing facilities. Extensive renovations on the Rangers Hall were completed, and the then GAA President Jack Boothman opened the new Social Club Complex.[3]

References

External links


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