Back in 17 March 1997 Cross Rangers had just won their 1st All Ireland club championship. After celebrating for a week or more, left half back Gary McShane set off for Australia. His destination was Melbourne where he met up with fellow South Armagh men.
Within days he had joined the Wolfe Tones club and started making his mark on the field of play. After helping the club to their 1st ever league, champion- ship and 7’s treble the flame was lit for a relationship between Crossmaglen Rangers of Armagh and Wolfe Tones Melbourne.
In 2001 Michael McShane landed to play for the Tones shortly followed by his cousin Kieran and fellow Cross man Paul Donnelly. The league was won that year and narrowly losing by a point in the championship final. 11 of the Tones players lined out for Victoria and won the state games in September 2001. Ronan O’Donnell, Derek Bounty Morgan and Paddy Moley soldiered on with the club in the mid 2000’s winning numerous titles in a good Tones team. Next up was Rico Kelly, Danny O’Callaghan and Ryan Carraher all of who won medals up in Gosford and league and championships down in Melbourne.
The biggest star to date from Cross was All Star and holder of a Sam Maguire and 6 All Ireland club championships medals, Oisín McConville. Oisín’s contribution to the Tones winning Gosford was over 20 points in a day, which record still stands for a single player.
Joe Fitzpatrick rolled up his sleeves and helped coach the team around the turn of the decade. Young flamboyant player Jamie Clarke was the next star to don the blue and white, and with his penalty score in the last minute of the final in Gosford puts him up there as one of the finest players to play in the Southern Hemisphere.
Armagh county and Cross defender James Morgan won his 1st medal and player of the tournament at the 9s tournament in Melbourne in 2018. That was followed by a league medal a few months after. Paul Kernan, although injured, rolled in behind Manager Eamonn McCormack and between the formidable pair won 4 trophies for Wolfe Tones in 2017.
For Crossmaglen players, it’s great to have a connection with such a successful Gaelic club in Australia.
The next batch of young footballers have recently descended into Melbourne and it won’t be long until they don the blue and white. With the ladies and hurling teams now going strong, we are hopeful we’ll have a few representatives on both teams from South Armagh’s amber and black.
Best wishes to Wolfe Tones on their 30th Anniversary. May you have many more years of success.