GAA Football

Ballymacnab v Armagh Harps: intriguing play-off clash

Armagh Harps Rory McGrath and Crossmaglen Rangers Oisin O'Neill in action during the 2018 Armagh Senior Football Championship. Picture by Philip Walsh.

Armagh SFC: Ballymacnab v Armagh Harps

Pearse Og Park will host an intriguing play-off encounter between two of the big hitters in Armagh football in recent seasons, Ballymacnab and Armagh Harps.

Both sides enter the contest on the back of a defeat and will look to bounce back this weekend to remain in the competition.

The Harps have suffered a poor championship run to date with their solitary victory coming over St Peter’s in round two.

They seemed to have everything under control last weekend at home to Silverbridge with Caolan McQuaid, Rory McGrath, Joe McElroy and Tom O’Kane all raising green flags before a late goal for the travelling side saw the Harps lose out 4-8 to 1-19.

Ballymacnab were the opposite in there loss to Crossmaglen seven days ago as it was a horrible start, handing the reigning champions a 10-point lead before they got on the scoreboard, that ultimately cost them the game.

The Nab can take some positives from their six-point defeat as they grabbed two second half goals to bring them back into contention.

The Round Towers have been in fine goal scoring form of late, raising nine green flags across their three championship games but their manager Bernie Murray is under no illusions of the task his side face.

“There’s a rivalry dating back with them and there never seems to be much between the two teams, '' he said.

“Obviously the trap door is sitting there for both teams so it’s a do or die match.

“After the shadow boxing of the group stages we’re now into the real thing of knockout football so both teams will be going full out.”

The Grugan brothers Rory and Jack along with Gavin McParland form a potent forward unit for the Nab while Ryan Kennedy returned to the starting 15 against Clann Eireann following a knee injury that cut his county season short.

Armagh Harps could have the answer to Ballymacnab’ s goal-scoring threat with Paddy Morrison likely to be between the posts after the experienced net minder returned to action last weekend and he will be keen to test himself against Ballymacnab’ s dangerous forward line.

At the other end of the field the Harps boast their own talented attack with Gareth Swift proving to be a handful at the edge of the square while speedster Tom O’Kane will take some watching as he is the man that makes his side tick.

Ryan McShane could also feature having not played in the last few months due to an ankle injury picked up earlier in the year.

On form Ballymacnab will be favourites to come out on top but the Round Towers have only beaten the Harps once in their previous three championship meetings, so it’s certain that the city side will enter the tie with supreme confidence.

If both teams reach their potential, it’s sure to be a rip-roaring contest with Ballymacnab the best equipped to reach the quarter finals.

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