Football: Champs Crushed by the Saints; All Ireland Club Football Semi-Final VINS OUST CROSS
Byline: By ORLA BANNON
St Vincent's (Dublin) 2-9
Crossmaglen Rangers 0-11
A brilliant first-half display laid the platform for St Vincent's to topple the reigning champions and reach their first AIB All-Ireland club final in 23 years.
The old cliche about goals winning games was never more relevant than in Navan yesterday as the Dublin champions found the net twice inside the opening 15 minutes to effectively sew up this game.
Crossmaglen were the team with all the savvy and experience on the big day but they were not prepared for such a bombardment.
In trouble all over the pitch, they were blown apart by a prolific scoring burst from Vincent's who hit an unanswered 1-3 between the 13th and 17th minute - the deciding phase of the game.
The city slickers had the upper hand from the off and, incredibly, led by 10 points at half-time.
Brian Maloney's goal in the fourth minute set the tone for the day and when Mossie Quinn coolly slotted home a second 10 minutes later, it already looked over for Cross.
The stiff breeze was certainly a factor and Vincent's had the advantage in the first-half but they could not have dreamed they would have such a cushion at the break.
Vincent's have one of the biggest back-room teams in club football with the likes of Brian Mullins and Niall Noyna helping Mickey Whelan and between them they had clearly done their homework.
Knowing the defending champion's fondness for a tight game, Vincent's decided to open them up and go at them full-throttle. It was a tactic which paid off.
The platform was laid in midfield where Kerry native Michael O'Shea was majestic, both in the air and in carrying the ball forward.
The Leinster champions completely wiped Cross out around the middle, winning all of their own and a sizeable number of Crossmaglen's kickouts.
Up front they had match-winners in abundance in Quinn, Maloney and young Dublin ace Dermot Connolly who kicked four points from play.
Veteran Pat Gilroy, who won an All-Ireland with Dublin in 1995, was a powerful target man at full-forward and also wreaked havoc in the Cross' full-back line.
Leading 2-8 to 0-4, it was job done and even though they only managed one point against the wind in the second-half from Connolly they were far enough in front to withstand the expected fight-back.
The south Armagh club have too much pride to go down without a fight and, with supporters' hopes raised by the introduction of Francie Bellew during the second-half, they battled hard inching ever closer to Vincent's total. …