SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER FINAL
BALLYMACNAB 2-11 GRANEMORE 0-11
The history books of Ballymacnab Round Towers GFC were once again re-written on Saturday evening and once again it is this special group of players who have created their own piece of history and that of the clubs. On winning the Intermediate Championship five years ago, achieving Division I status last year and establishing themselves as a premier club this year, they have now reaching the Senior Championship Final for the first time, this team has just went from strength to strength. The Nab went into the game as the bookies underdogs, having already lost to Granemore twice this year in the league and were playing in their first Semi Final. However, the Nab well totally focused on the job on hand. The Nab fielded the same team as their Quarter Final victory with the exceptions of influential centre half back Michael Beagan who was ruled out by injury and was replaced by Paudi Crilly.
The game began before a large attendance at the Morgan Athletic Grounds and after only three minutes Granemore registered the first score with a point. The Nab hit back almost immediately and a solo run from the lively Ryan Kennedy who offloaded to Joe Gribben. His shot was saved by the keeper and from the resulting 45 meter kick Gavin McParland slotted over his sides first score. The Nab missed a few score able chances but on the 11th minute they registered their second score when Pauric Gribben's kick pass saw Gavin McParland out catch his marker but was fouled in the process. Brian McCone converted the free. Granemore began to dominate around the middle and added two unanswered points. Gavin McParland collected his second point on the 18th minute. Once again Granemore hit back immediately and edged out in front with two further points. Gavin McParland was proving to be a handful to the full back and on the 26th minute he was fouled in front of goal. Brian McCone tapped over the resulting kick. The sides were level two minutes later when Paudi Crillys cross field pass to James Gray saw him set off en route to goals. Just for a second there was a chance for the first goal but James did the sensible thing and curled over a point. Two minutes into added time a point for the opposition saw them leading six points to five at the interval.
As often before between these two sides there was very little between them. From the restart Granemore stated brightly hitting three unanswered points in quick succession. It looked as if they were now going to dominate but the Nab showed great character, hunger and composure. Midfield was beginning to break even with the greatest of efforts from Pauric and Richard Gribben, while in defence Paudi Crilly was coming into his own. The full forward line of McCone, McParland and Kennedy were causing havoc and on three separate occasions fouls resulted in frees that were coolly converted by the accurate Rory Grugan to leave just one between the sides by the 43rd minute. The game now hung in the balance and could have gone either way. On the 47th minute the definitive score of the game came when once again Gavin McParland out foxed his marker and his flicked pass to the on running Ryan Kennedy saw him round the keeper and finished with a goal. Gavin McParland added another point to his tally three minutes later to leave an intriguing final ten minutes. As expected Granemore responded and by the 52nd minute had reduced the deficit to the minimum. The rest of the game belonged to the Round Towers and when substitute Jack Grugan held off two opponents and swung over a point from around 30 meters, one felt that maybe this was going to be Ballymacnab's day. On the 58th minute Gavin McParland once again tormented the defence and turned provider for the second time when setting up Brian McCone for the Nabs second goal. As the Nab set about closing out the game, it was fitting that the final score of the game fell to Gavin McParland. At the final whistle there were signs of unbridled joy from both players and supporters. The players received rapturous applause when coming off the field, a gallant salute to a gallant bunch of men.
The Nab had heroes all over the field with everyone playing their part. Captain Sean Hughes lead by example and kept his troops in order. Defensively the Nab were strong as a unit with Barry O’Hare and Paudi Crilly snuffing out attacks continuously with the latter putting in a fear list performance and keeping his marker scoreless. The Gribben combination of Pauric and Richard really stamped their authority on the game when they got on top. In attack Rory Grugan once again showed his quality and through off the shackles despite getting close attention. His quality ball for the two goals was something to savour. Brian McCone and Ryan Kennedy worked industrially throughout. Gavin McParland put in a star man performance through scoring and assistance and was involved in a lot of the Nabs scores. The introducing of minor players Jack Grugan and Brian McClelland in the second half also contributed to the victory. Well done all involved!
Team: Sean Hughes (Capt), Chris Loughran, Dwayne McParland, Dominic McParland, Barry O'Hare, Paudi Crilly, Kevin Beagan, Pauric Gribben, Richard Gribben, James Gray (0-1), Rory Grugan (0-3), Joe Gribben, Brian McCone (1-2), Gavin McParland (0-4), Ryan Kennedy (1-0). Subs: Jack Grugan (0-1) for J.Gribben, Chris Kennedy for C.Loughran, (Blood) Brian McClelland for J.Gray.