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Seniors get off to a good start (08/04/18)

posted 16 Apr 2018, 17:09 by ballymacnab armagh

Matchball sponsor - Colin McKee

The 2018 senior football league began on Sunday, with Ballymacnab hosting St Patrick’s Cullyhanna to kick off their return to Division 1A following promotion last season. The home side edged what proved to be a fiercely competitive and intriguing game played in perfect conditions on the score line of Ballymacnab 4-11 Cullyhanna’s 3-13.

The visitors made the brighter start converting their first 2 efforts on goal within the opening minute before scoring a 3rd point to stretch their lead. Ballymacnab answered back in emphatic fashion with a converted penalty from Gavin McParland after he had been fouled inside the small square before Kieran Hughes doubled his sides lead, firing the ball into the bottom corner after great link up play between Jack Grugan and Gavin McParland.

Cullyhanna converted a free to make the score 2-0 to 0-4 before a Rory Grugan point from the dead ball restored the Nabs 3 point lead. This lead was short lived however as Cullyhanna were soon back on level terms with a goal of their own on the 15th minute. 2 points from St Pat’s edged them back in front but it was Ballymacnab, led by Rory Grugan, who finished the half best kicking 4 points without reply (all from the trusty left boot of Rory Grugan) to go in front at the break 2-5 to 1-6.

The second period began in a similar manner to the first, with Cullyhanna dominating early on, scoring 1-3 in quick succession to put them 4 points ahead. Jack Grugan responded with his first of the day after a great catch in the middle of the field and assist from Gavin McParland set Grugan in for a score. Ballymacnab reduced the deficit to one soon after with points from Rory Grugan (2) leaving Cullyhanna ahead 2-9 to 2-8.

Michael Beagan’s accurate pass found Gavin McParland whose powerful run left him one on one with the keeper, making no mistake as he slide the ball into the Cullyhanna net for a second time. Once more St Pat’s were able to reduce the margin to 1 before an incredible Ryan Watters effort sailed between the posts to put Ballymacnab in front by 3-9 to 2-10 with 15 minutes remaining

As was the story throughout the game, Cullyhanna struck back with a purple patch of their own, scoring 1-3 and firing themselves back into control, leaving the score now reading 3-13 to 3-9 to St Pat’s. However they would not register another score as Ballymacnab’s drive and determination saw them home.

McParland completed his hat trick with another goal and brought his side within a point once again while Rory Grugan converted another free to level the game. It seemed both teams would be happy with a share of the spoils, but a turnover in defence by Finnen Maguire created the counter attack which saw Brian McCone being fouled and allowed Grugan to kick the winner to give Ballymacnab a 4-11 to 3-13 lead as the referee blew the final whistle.

Grugan’s man of the match display was displayed on the scoreboard as he scored 0-9 of Ballymacnab’s overall total while also creating many chances throughout the game. Michael Beagan showed well throughout while Gavin McParland had a say in all 4 of his sides goals, scoring 3 and creating 1.

A great start to the league and for the lads and the new management team of Bernie Murray and Paul O’Conner and they will travel to Dromintee next weekend for their round 2 encounter.

Team: Conor McGivern, Ruairi Gribben, Ryan Kennedy, Ciaran Connelly, Michael Beagan (Capt), Damian McGeown, Chris Loughran, Tony McKee, Rory Grugan (0-9), Paul Meegan, Brian McCone, James Gray, Kieran Hughes (1-0), Jack Grugan (0-1), Gavin McParland (3-0)

Subs: Niall McKee for D. McGeown, Ryan Watters (0-1) for P. Meegan, Finnen Maguire for J. Gray, Sean Lynch for T. McKee, Joe Gribben for B. McCone.