Ballymacnab struggled for long period of the first half in their quarter final victory over Pearse Ogs but finally found their groove to see out a comfortable eight point win by the time the referee called for the ball and Jack Grugan was the man who really stood up during that second half, kicking 1-2 of his side’s 2-6 to see them through to the semi final.
“To be fair to the Ogs they started very, very strong. They really came out of the blocks, were very well set up and had a good strong defensive unit and they were breaking at a lot of pace and it probably took us a wee while to get to the pitch of the game. Whether that was heavy legs from a tight game last week against the Harps and they were maybe a bit fresher”.
“We don’t really know what it was but after maybe 20 minutes we got ourselves back into it with a few big scores, Ryan Kennedy kicked a big one and going in at half time six all, we were probably happy enough to get in at six all. Obviously the second half we came out got the goal early on and it came at just the right time. We were unfortunate that Paul (Meegan) got sent off. And then really it was just about seeing the game out and using our experience, we’ve been here before and we just had to keep the ball and be smart and wait for the right chances to come”.
Ballymacnab had the comfort of being the first team through to the semi’s and getting the opportunity to spend the weekend watching the remaining teams fight it out for the remaining places, “It’s nice to be able to go and watch everybody knowing you have the comfort of being through to the next round but for us it’s more about just trying to recover and get ourselves ready for a big two weeks and whoever we get, we can’t change that so we’ll just get ready for it”.
While Ballymacnab enjoyed a fine year last season, winning the Senior League along with reaching the championship final, Grugan insists that his side are unconcerned about what happened last season and are entirely focused on their next game, “No it wouldn’t really be mentioned (last year), we have to park that. . Yes, we had a good year last year, won Divisions 1A for the first time, it was really a big stepping stone for us and we carried that momentum into the championship last year”.
“Obviously the first half against Cross we were playing quite well in the final, they’re experienced, they’re such a strong team and we’re just going to have to try and learn from that and at the same time it’s parked, it’s a new year, it’s a fresh set of boys. There’s a few boys that have left the squad and a few different boys back in so we’re just trying our best to see where we go this year one game at a time”.
And so, as fate would have it, Ballymacnab will face their arch rivals Granemore in what will be the last game of the season for one of the teams, with the chance to reach a county final the prise for the winner. The game will take place on Saturday the 5th of October prior to Crossmaglen vs Maghery in the other semi final.