Rangers are still the team to beat

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As the new club season approaches, the news coming out from the Crossmaglen Rangers camp wouldn’t exactly motivate other sides in the county who are attempting to break the South Armagh clubs stranglehold on domestic competitions which they have dominated for almost 20 years.

It has been gathered that the Rangers have welcomed back former Armagh player John Murtagh who had been the top scorer on the Dublin club scene when lining out for Parnells.

Murtagh will be joined by another returning county player Franny Hanratty and midfielder David McKenna who missed a big part of last season through injury. Crossmaglen could continue to dominate Armagh football for some considerable time, they won last seasons under 16 Ulster Championship, and gave their minor team room to progress when dropping down to the second division in 2013.

Cross minors beat St. Paul’s in the final of last years championship.

The Armagh club leagues will begin on Sunday, April 14 and with players mostly maintaining their level of fitness over he closed season.

New tactics are being employed by managers, many have moved away from long arduous runs which are designed to build stamina before sharpness routines are implemented at the start of the new season.

It is somewhat ironic that Jamie Clarke who is widely seen as Armagh’s best forward refused to engage in weight training under the management of Tony McEntee and Gareth O’Neill who both stepped down to make way for Joe Kernan at the end of 2012.

Clarke, who has placed his emphasis on sharpness and speed on the turn, will be joined this season by an impressive array of Rangers forwards which will include Steven and Tony Kernan, Kyle Carragher and returning defenders James Morgan and Paul Hughes who both missed out through injury last season.

Sarsfields, who travel to Crossmaglen for a league game in early May, will also play the South Armagh men in the Senior Championship in August.

Oisin McConville’s side would be odds on to lift another Armagh Championship title this season considering that the majority of contenders have become weaker over the past number of years.

In the past Killeavey, Pearse Ogs, Cullyhanna and Dromintee have all forced Cross into replays with the Ogs on a solitary occasion lowering the colours of the County Champions.

Sarsfields, who play Crosmaglen in the championship, are currently taking a proactive approach and are currently unbeaten in the Ulster League Series.