Marley magic leads Lissummon to title
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
THE immense Marley sisters scored 4-12 between them to lead Lissummon into the top flight of Armagh ladies football for the first time with a decisive victory over Shane O'Neill's.
Beaten in the Division Two final in each of the past two seasons under the previous play-off format, Lissummon claimed the title and sole promotion place this time by finishing top of the table with this triumph.
They needed to win their final league game to make mathematically sure and duly did so by a nine-point margin in spite of the incredible efforts of highly gifted teenager Aimee Mackin, the shining star of a youthful Shane's side.
The Northern Ireland U19 soccer international had scored 2-13 as Shane's beat Dorsey in last month's Junior Championship final but her 2-10 at Lissummon easily eclipses that given the standard of opposition.
Even at inter-county level, few forwards get much change out of the formidable Marleys, but the 16-year-old showed neither physical fear or over-awe as she gave an eye-catching individual display laced with moments of breath-taking brilliance.
Until the last score of the game, Mackin had notched her team's entire tally, though younger sister Blaithin and another emerging soccer star, Moya Feehan, also caught the eye at times for the lively visitors.
This contest was always likely to come down to whether the Marleys could legally counter the Mackin magic and how well they could cancel out any damage done with scores at the other end given that their best players are all natural defenders.
In the event, the common sense refereeing of Barney Henry made for an extremely enjoyable game as he didn't spoil the contest by over-protecting the Mackins but let the football flow while retaining clear charge.
Thanks to Aimee Mackin, Shane's accumulated a significant tally but Lissummon kept the board ticking themselves as the Marleys and veteran former Armagh corner back Orla Murtagh all ventured forward to good effect.
Sarah Marley, playing in the unaccustomed centre half forward role she has filled a bit at club level this season, led the way with two goals and three points in spite of being binned before half-time for persistent fouling.
Her oldest sister Caoimhe Morgan, playing in midfield alongside the third sibling, Niamh - who hit 1-3 - began and ended the second half with two point salvos and the baby of the family, teenage corner forward Catherine, chipped in with 1-2.
Murtagh, Caoimhe's fellow corner-back on the Armagh team that narrowly lost the 2006 All-Ireland final, struck three points and the very first of the evening had come from Stacey Dixon, who also had a penalty saved soon afterwards.
The triumphant roar from Morgan as she hammered home a towering point in the closing stages summed up what promotion with their beloved Lissummon means to the Marleys, whose dad Noel - the former Armagh footballer - is team manager.
This Lissummon victory ended Grange's title hopes but the latter can instead look forward to a provincial campaign this autumn after winning last Wednesday night's Mackin's Intermediate Championship replay against Crossmaglen by 2-14 to 1-6.
Grange had been denied by two late Cross goals in the original game in the Athletic Grounds but made no mistake second time around with former Armagh giant Dervla Toal, now Mallon, leading the way in a 10-point victory at Silverbridge.
The redoubtable 32-year-old was Player of the Match both times and embellished this commanding display by top-scoring with 1-6 from midfield a mere three days after captaining Tullysaran in the Armagh Senior Camogie Championship final.
Incredibly, one family accounted for all 20 of Grange's points, with the rest coming from three of Dervla's five nieces in the team, the talented Mackle sisters. Rising county star Siobhan notched five, Louise three and Alice got the other goal.
Having been a little lucky to avoid any yellow cards first time around, Cross found themselves on the receiving end of the referee here with three binnings to two for Grange and the scoreline certainly didn't flatter them.
Badly missing the holidaying Lauren McConville as a foil for captain Maria O'Donnell, Cross couldn't capitalise on having plenty of possession as they were condemned to Intermediate decider defeat for the second year running.
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