ARMAGH JUNIOR FINAL - 22 August 1999
When one looks back at the history of Ballymacnab Round Towers, the year of 1999 was one marked with sadness, joy and relief.
In February of the year the community was saddened with the death of Tommy O’Hare. Tommy had been instrumentally involved with the Round Towers all his life. Firstly as a player in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. After his playing days he managed various teams down through the years aswell as serving as Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer at various stages. In later years he was the Club President up until his death. For many, Tommy was Ballymacnab.
On the playing field there was an air of enthusiasm and belief that this year was finally going to be the year that the Nab would win the Junior Championship. Their one goal was set out from the start of the year to win the Championship. So what made this year any difference from any other year? One has only to look at the new management team that was put in place of Colm Marley and Paul Grimley. Their professionalism and a huge dedication from all the players resulted in them achieving due reward.
The Nab went into the Junior Final as slight favourites, having accounted for Corrinshigo (2-10:0-05) and Wolfe Tones (1-09:1-07) in the previous rounds but came up against stiff opposition in the form of Belleek.
The following report is an extract from the Armagh Observer by Joe McManus
BALLYMACNAB 2-05 BELLEEK 0-07
This game will not be remembered as a classic but who cared in Ballymacnab, as at long last the Championship breakthrough had been achieved, creating unbridled joy.
However, for long periods it looked as if the disappointment was going to continue when they tailed by six points early in the second half, after kicking unjustifiable 13 wides in the opening 30 minutes.
The Nab were forced to start with captain and star performer Gary Donnelly who was carrying an injury from the Semi Final victory. Although introduced early in the second half he had to retire minutes later. Despite the Nab’s dominance in the first half they trailed 4 points to 1 at the interval. The Nab’s point coming from a converted free from Tony Gribben.
In the second half Ballymacnab management of Colm Marley and Paul Grimley made a number of switches (notably moving Liam King to Midfield and introduction of substitute Paudi Beagan). Belleek looked set for victory until a point from King on the 44th minute, carved out by Peter Beagan and Vinny Loughran, revived the Nab. A minute later Tony Gribben was on target from a free and suddenly the game took on a different shape, giving some hope their supporters. On the 53rd minute Liam Gribben collected a loose ball and fired a high shot to the Belleek goal area. This was totally unread by the Belleek keeper and the wily Vinny Loughran kept his eye on the ball and followed through with a fisted goal. All the Nab players were now rejuvenated and Vinny burst through with the equalising point on the 54th minute.
The Nab now took control of the game and as Liam Gribben cut through towards goal, he was hauled down in the square and awarded the penalty. Once again it was Vinny Loughran who stepped up to the mark and rattled the ball to the net. An injury time point from Tony Gribben ensured the victory. At the final whistle there were signs of sheer emotion with virtually all over come.
Goalkeeper Artie Boyle had a solid game throughout and made one crucial save when a goal for Belleek at that stage would probably have put the Nab out of the game. Phillip McCone, Damien McCone and Colm McArdle had outstanding games in defence, as did Liam King when switched to the middle. Midfielders Kevin Smyth and Liam Gribben controlled the game throughout while the forwards created a lot of play but failed in converting their chances. An inspired final ten minutes from the veteran Vinny Loughran and was decisive when called upon showing all his experience and quality.
Gary Donnelly had the privilege of becoming the first Captain from the club to lift an All County Senior Championship trophy.
Team: Artie Boyle, Damian McCone, Liam King (0-1), Damian Gribben, Raymond McCone, Colm McArdle, Philip McCone, Kevin Smyth, Liam Gribben, Seamus McArdle, Peter Beagan, James Gray, Tony Gribben (0-3), John McCormack, Vinny Loughran (2-1). Subs: Gary Donnelly for J.Gray, James Gray for G.Donnelly, Paudi Beagan for J.McCormack, Mark McKee, Gerard Gribben, Diarmaid Gribben, Martin McGeown, Richard Gribben, Joe Gribben, Sean Mallon, Paul McKee, Fergal McVerry, Nelius Boyle, Paul Gray, Peadar Gray.
The song below written by Mickey Beagan pays tribute to the team.
August 22nd and the weather it was fine,
The Nab were in the final and the year was ’99,
They hadn’t won this cup before, so victory it was sweet,
Now every mans a hero from his head down to his feet.
The Athletic Grounds were quiet as the fans came strolling in,
No flags, no band, no anthem there, we thought it was a sin,
We were not complaining when the hour it was up,
We were so delighted, we had the Sean Quinn Cup.
Artie Boyle was in the goals and he forgot to shave,
I swear it must have helped him, for he pulled off manys a save,
D McCone was right full back as solid as a wall,
Liam King and Damien Gribben, there full backs to please them all.
On the right was Raymond, he covered half the field,
McArdle and young Philip, they’re half backs that never yield,
Big Kevin and Liam Gribben, at centre field hold sway,
Seamus McArdle, Peter Beagan and the youthful Jemmy Gray.
On the Right was Tony with McCormack on the square,
And the wiry Vinny Loughran who could play just anywhere,
The subs were waiting on the line, already for the fray,
A gallant band of heroes in Armagh on that day.
Colm Marley and Paul Grimley came to steady up the ship,
They brought on Gary Donnelly who was strapped up to his hip,
We were so down hearted when he had to leave the play,
So back into the action came the youthful Jemmy Gray.
Once again our two big men shuffled up the pack,
They brought on Paudi Beagan to play somewhere at the back,
With King now pushed up the field they looked a better cut,
On and on for victory to left the Sean Quinn Cup.
Two goals were scored by Vinny with the boys all helping round,
And so we won that victory on that famed Athletic Grounds,
When Nixon blew the whistle, we cheered and cheered our fill,
I swear they could hear us on top of Lisnadil.
Now my story’s over, I hope you had good crack,
We cheered our heroes loudly all around that old Bull Track,
The music in the hall was ringing in our ears,
This victory we’ll remember boys for many many years!!!