Mullaghbawn back at the top after 10-year absence
Cormac Leonard Armagh SFC Round One
MULLAGHBAWN make a return to Armagh Senior Club Championship after the absence of 10 years, when they face Annaghmore in Ballymacnab tonight, at 7pm.
The 'Bawn have been rebuilding over this past decade and their young squad can become a force in senior football again.
It is 25 years since Mullaghbawn last won the senior county title, when with players such as Kieran McGeeney, Justin McNulty and Enda McNulty helped the south Armagh side win the Ulster Championship.
Back then the Armagh Championship was straight knock-out and that format returns as the manager at the time was Peter McDonnell and he is back at the helm of his native club.
McDonnell has helped shape a young and athletic side, their oldest player (Ciaran Grant) is only 28 years old and they are getting physically stronger year on year.
McDonnell’s son Eoghan, is a fantastic intelligent footballer, while Shea Loye is fast and strong, and they will be aiming to keep their chief marksman Eddie English in plentiful supply.
Mullaghbawn won the Armagh Intermediate A League last year but failed to make an impact in the Championship and they’ll expect a tough battle against Annaghmore.
The mid-Armagh side are without former county man Oisin Mac Iomhair and that is a blow to their chances. Thomas McCormack and Michael Willis have been performing well but a youthful Mullaghbawn should display the appetite and have edge here.
A few miles down the road at Abbey Park, Clann Eireann face the tough challenge of seasoned senior championship side Granemore, also with a 7pm throw-in.
This game will be a glimpse back to the early days of the noughties decade, with former county team-mates clashing as Tony McClelland is likely to be given the job to halt the returning Ryan Henderson.
McClelland has been one of the top defenders over this past decade and his robust runs offer Granemore a platform to launch attacks. And they have their own former county star back as U21 All-Ireland winner (2004) Jason O’Neill has been notching up scores.
Of course, the Lurgan side boasts the young talent of Conor Turbitt, who forced his way into Kieran McGeeney’s Armagh side earlier this year and he will take some stopping. Great in the air and sharp in front of the posts, the Lurgan side have been making good use of the ‘forward mark’.
Clann Eireann have talent in defence too as Barry McCambridge and Shea Heffron are some of the best young mobile defenders in the county.
Ross Finn, Liam Doyle and another former county captain Kieran Toner offer Granemore a formidable spine. Toner shifts between midfield and full-forward and is handful to deal with in any area of the field.
All Championship games in Armagh are straight knock-out this year as it aims to lessen the supporters need to travel as we all fight against Covid 19.
A limited number of tickets are available through clubs and must be bought prior to the games.