Rory Grugan prioritises success with Ballymacnab and Armagh over personal accolades

Long-serving Ballymacnab and Armagh player Rory Grugan is prepared to eschew personal glory and instead focus on team progress on two fronts.

rugan will line out with Ballymacnab against Maghery in a crucial Armagh senior football championship quarter-final at the Athletic Grounds tomorrow night, firmly resolved to do his best to get his side into the last four.

They may have won the Division One title three years ago but championship success has always been a priority for the side yet has remained an elusive goal.

And even though he is among the nominees for this year’s coveted All-Star awards, Grugan is strongly focus ed on a rather different dual target.

“I would just love to see Ballymacnab win the county championship title and I would also hope that Armagh can make a big bid to win the Ulster title next year now that Kieran McGeeney is back in charge for another year,” reveals Grugan.

“You are always trying to get your priorities right and I think that club and or county success would be great if it came along. We are very fortunate here in Ballymacnab that we have Barry Dillon in charge and then you look at Kieran McGeeney and what he has been doing for Armagh over the years.

“It’s great that he is back in there for another year at least because his heart is in this Armagh team and we as players have been taking a leaf from his book. It would be great if we could just build on the headway that we have made this year.”

Along with his brother Jack and Gavin McParland, Grugan lends a dynamic edge to the Ballymacnab attack. Indeed, both his brother and McParland flirted with inter-county football before committing themselves vigorously to Ballymacnab, while Rory has continued to serve the two masters with unbridled enthusiasm.

A teacher in St Macartan’s College, Monaghan, his influence within the Armagh side is considerable but right now Ballymacnab boss Dillon is particularly keen to see him release his many-sided skills against a Maghery team that will take their inspiration from Grugan’s long-serving county team colleague Aidan Forker.

If Grugan requires any further encouragement ahead of the confrontation against Maghery, then it comes from Dillon in spades.

“Rory is just a class act, a quality footballer through and through,” maintains Dillon. “It is he who helps to set the standard to which the whole team plays. All the boys have total respect for him — nobody would ever have a bad word to say about him.”

Grugan’s influence certainly manifested itself in Ballymacnab’s recent championship win over St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna — a team that included two of his fellow-forwards from the Armagh attack in Aidan Nugent and Jason Duffy. While Ballymacnab were accounting for St Patrick’s (1-14 to 0-13), Maghery were edging out Harps by 1-12 to 0-12, with F orker moving up to full-forward at one stage.

Maghery have the edge on tomorrow’s opponents in terms of championship success, their most recent triumphs coming in 2020 and 2016. In contrast, Ballymacnab reached the final in 2019 and 2018, losing to Crossmaglen on each occasion.

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