Maghery march on with Ulster win

Stefan Forker posted some crucial points to help Maghery march into the Ulster semi-finals.
Stefan Forker posted some crucial points to help Maghery march into the Ulster semi-finals.

Having made club history with an inaugural senior Armagh title in 110 years of existence, Maghery stepped out for the first time in the Ulster Championship on Sunday.

And the rural club’s memorable journey into gaelic football’s major stage took another massive leap forward with quarter-final glory.

The 1-13 to 1-10 triumph against Cavan’s Ramor United left Maghery with the latest landmark chapter in the club record books.

The magic mix of fairytale and reality that has engulfed the area is evident when talking to Maghery chairman Sean Cushnahan.

“It has been new territory for everyone in Maghery but all we have here is football and everyone is talking about it,” said Cushnahan. “The clubhouse this time of year would be pretty dead but was packed on Sunday, with the buzz unbelievable.

“I think every man, woman and dog was at The Athletic Grounds last weekend and life seems to have been put on hold.

“But pressure is what you put in tyres and it is testament to the commitment of the management team and players that they remain completely dedicated to the next challenge.

“The focus has been amazing over the past 11 months, with guys making the trip down three times a week from Belfast and all over to train as one group of 29 players.

“It goes beyond the starting 15 and six substitutes to rest, with everyone playing a part and everyone in it together.

“The spirit and bond between the squad is something special but this has been a group years in the making, with every past heartbreak and setback making the current run all the more special.”

Maghery now face Kilcoo on November 13 in the semi-finals at Newry’s Parc Esier - the opposition entering the Ulster last-four setting as five-in-a-row champions of Down.

“We lost the coin toss for choice of venue but, once you break it down, it is still just posts and a pitch with 15 players in either side,” said Cushnahan. “You have to respect Kilcoo’s record and it is a testament to the quality of players brought across the club.

“But you can respect without showing fear and we have a serious amount of faith in our group.

“There is so much hunger to achieve and they have so much belief.

“We won the Armagh title and got our first Ulster victory thanks to that squad effort and nothing is ever guaranteed, especially when you start a season, but it is such a tightknit panel.

“As much as it has been fresh territory, the players got the result at Ulster level and now know exactly what it holds.

“You are playing against county champions so the football is a different test.

“But people must also give our club recognition for our achievements as we are also county champions.

“There is real faith in the squad’s potential and last weekend was one step closer to achieving the Ulster goal.

“We stand one win away from the Ulster final and the Ramor game showed everyone how you cannot ease off for a moment at this level.

“There is a never-say-die attitude within the club and every day is a learning experience for the squad.”

MAGHERY: Johnny Montgomery, Kevin Nugent, Oisin Lappin, Gerard Campbell, Eoin Scullion, Ciaran Higgins, Niall Forker, James Lavery, Ben Crealey, Steven Fox, Conor Mackle, Stefan Forker, Ronan Lappin, Aidan Forker, Stephen Cusack, David Lavery, Seamus Forker, Paul Forker, Shea Tennyson, Conor Forker, Caolan Hendron, John Mackle, Michael Gallagher, Michael Higgins, Eamon Cusack, Neil McConville, Jack Lavery, Brendan Haveron, Ciaran Lappin.

Play on November 13 will start at 2.30, with Slaughtneil facing Killyclogher in the other semi-final.