SFC Round One – Sat 8th Aug – Athletic Grounds – 7.00pm
For the last two years, Ballymacnab have been on the cusp of landing championship glory, but have just fallen short of history.
Crossmaglen have denied them their first ever Senior title in successive years, and Bernie Murray’s men will once again target an appearance in the showpiece.
Standing in their way this evening will be Madden, and you can be guaranteed that the underdogs will not be short on confidence.
Any team that can call upon the might of Niall Grimley knows they are in with a fighting chance and an upset could be on the cards tonight.
Grimley is an incredible fielder of the ball with all the footballing ability needed to star in the centre of the park.
He’s likely to be shadowed by his Armagh teammate Rory Grugan. Whoever comes out on top in that duel will offer their side a huge chance of winning.
The middle of the field is an area that Madden are sure to target and we be convinced that they can gain the upper hand on kick outs.
Ballymacnab have been without their regular goalkeeper Conor McGivern during the league, using three different net-minders in their three games.
This will give Madden massive belief, and you can be sure they will put big pressure on the Nab kickouts from the off.
Grimley will be partnered by his brother Ryan in that central area and Jamie Sheridan will look for them with every kick out.
Ballymacnab will call upon the likes of Rory Grugan, Paul Meegan and Pauric Gribben to gain a stranglehold in the middle third.
Up front, Ballymacnab poses all the aces. Jack Grugan has been sensational for the Round Towers for a number of years now.
His four goals against Crossmaglen may have caught the headlines, but Grugan is well known as one of the top forwards in the county.
Madden will have to choose their matchups wisely, although whoever is detailed to pick up the Nab’s full forward won’t be on his own.
Madden are expected to drop deep and swarm the Ballymacnab attack, that also possess the talent of Gavin McParland.
Mickey Grimley’s men have their own attacking talent to call on, with Aron McKenna and Ciaran Raffety good enough to worry any defence.
The Raparees will look to counterattack and their game plan will be based around hard work, defensive shape, and breaking forward at pace.
Niall Smith has been a consistent high performer in the red and black shirt and he has the ability to sneak in behind the cover to get on the score sheet.
Defensively, Ballymacnab will once again call on Ryan Kennedy to man the square with Ciaran Connolly holding the fort at centre half back.
If Madden can deny the Nab attack space and time they will certainly be in with a massive shout, but Ballymacnab should be able to edge through.