Donnelly Group SFC
Ballymacnab 1-15 Armagh Harps 0-16
Patrons at the Athletic Grounds on Friday night were treated to a superb game of football, as Ballymacnab edged out Armagh Harps in an enthralling first round championship encounter. Both teams went all out for the win and traded some great scores, but a fantastic second half display from Ballymacnab brought them over the line in a titanic battle.
In the first half, two men in particular who shone were Jack Grugan from Ballymacnab who kicked four lovely scores from play and Tom O’Kane from the Harps who’s 0-6 tally included two great efforts from play. The game began at a frenetic pace with Ballymacnab 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after four minutes, but a couple of frees from Karol Loughran and Tom O’Kane brought the sides level with ten minutes gone. On 20 minutes, the sides were still level at 0-6 apiece, Ballymacnab’s scores from Brian McCone, Finnén Maguire and a super effort from Jack Grugan, and the Harps efforts from O’Kane, Charlie Vernon and Conor White blasting over with a half-chance on goal. While the opening 20 minutes was tight and end to end, the final 10 was dominated by Armagh Harps who added four points, three from O’Kane and one from Vernon and with the half time whistle approaching the Harps defence emerged with the ball when Brian McCone tried a short free to try and stop the Harps momentum.
Half time Baile Mhic an Aba 0-6 Cláirsigh Ard Mhacha 0-10
The Harps got off to a great start in the second half with points for Paul Kelly and Simon McCoy putting their side six in front, but within an eight minute period, Ballymacnab were back level with two points apiece for Brian McCone, Jack Grugan and Rory Grugan. The sides traded scores on two further occasions, but on 20 minutes Ballymacnab edged ahead after a great score from Jack Grugan coming in from the left had them 0-15 to 0-14 up. On 22 minutes, Ballymacnab received a big boost with Rory Grugan slotting home a penalty and within a minute, he could have had the green flag waving again, but his shot was stopped by Paddy Morrison. With two minutes remaining, Tom O’Kane, who was very well marshalled by Fearghal Nugent in the second half, reduced the deficit to one score when he fired over a free, but Charlie Vernon could only add a point when they needed a goal and with that, Ballymacnab secured a great win which sees them through to the second round in a fortnight’s time. Many teams, meanwhile, will hope to avoid Armagh Harps in the qualifiers, who will be looking to see Joe McElroy and Ryan McShane return from their travels, as they could have a big say yet in the Donnelly Group Armagh Senior Football Championship.
Full time Baile Mhic an Aba 1-15 Cláirsigh Ard Mhacha 0-16