Orchard girls in full bloom to win Ulster
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Monaghan 1-07. Armagh 2-14.
ARMAGH are back on top of Ulster Ladies Gaelic Football after thumping a five in a row title chasing Monaghan in Clones on Sunday.
It was magnificent performance from the Orchard girls who started the game understandably cagey but lost the shackles and stormed to a convincing nine-point victory.
It is a wonderful achievement for a team that has made strides in recent years. Four years ago Armagh were relegated to Division Three of the League and dropped down into the Intermediate Championship. And since then, with James Daly in charge Armagh have won and Intermediate All-Ireland title, Ulster title and the Division Three title.
Players such as captain Caroline O'Hanlon, Mairead Tennyson, Caoimhe Morgan, Sharon Reel, Sinead McCleary, Marian McGuinness and Mags McAlinden have seen the glory years come and on Sunday they pulled out all the stops with convincing displays.
But the youthful crop of Kelly Mallon, Naimh Henderson, Aoife McCoy, Louise Kenny, Niamh Marley, Fionnuala McKenna and Lauren McConviille have helped propel Armagh to are higher level of performance and the Orchard girls are deserving Ulster Champions.
In the first half the Armagh side were cautious and weighed up the threat Monaghan offered before imposing their own game in an excellent second half display.
Armagh were worthy of their half-time lead but while they did a superb job on containing a formidable Monaghan forward line, they still looked like they had more to give.
Fionnuala McKenna's converted free in the opening minute gave the Orchard girls an ideal start and Kelly Mallon looked to have doubled Armagh's lead although the umpires signalled wide.
Monaghan levelled the score on 11 minutes with Ellen McCarron striking over and Cathriona McConnell give the Farney girls the lead.
Armagh were set up defensively with Mags McAlinden and Kelly Mallon leading a two-woman forward line.
But while Armagh defended brilliantly with Mairead Tennyson, sister Caoimhe Marley and Niamh Morgan making vital blocks and Sharon Reel doing a steady marking job on Monaghan's danger woman Therese Scott, the supply into the forwards was poor and both McAlinden and Mallon were too slow to win their own ball, which led to Monaghan counter-attacking.
O'Hanlon's point levelled the score and on 13 minutes Mallon displayed ice-cool composure to bag a goal after a beautiful sweeping movement.
McCleary made surging run down her left side-line before passing accurately to McKenna who ran straight at goal before squaring right to Mags who could have pulled the trigger but she passed across goal to Mallon who from an acute angle at the near post slipped the ball low into the net.
As expected Monaghan battled back with Cora Courtney, Niamh Kindlon (free) and Ciara McAnespie, although the umpires weren't quite sure about their last point. In between those scores Armagh keeper Katie Daly twice denied Scott and Marian McGuinness and Marley were called to make last-ditch blocks.
McKenna put Armagh in front with a fine strike and Lauren McConville tagged on another score to keep the Orchard girls ahead at the break.
Half-time: Monaghan 0-05 Armagh 1-04
Like the start of the first half McKenna converted a free before Monaghan scored a strange goal.
Monaghan's McCarron blatantly fouled Morgan and but yet the referee Eugene O'Hare didn't award a free and allowed play to continue with Monaghan in attack before halting play and then subsequently giving McCarron a yellow card. But he didn't award a free to Armagh for the foul on Morgan but instead gave the free to Monaghan. They took it quickly which resulted in McConnell bagging a goal and levelling the score with 33 minutes on the clock.
But Armagh raised their work-rate another level and started to take control. O'Hanlon displayed great leadership when she burst forward and swung over a point. McKenna and McConnell exchanged points but the Orchard girls were looked a different side as they attacked in numbers and took the game to Monaghan.
McAlinden and Mallon won their individual battles up front during the second half and with the bit between their teeth Armagh hammered home their dominance with relentless attacks.
Dromintee's Aoife McCoy struck a beautiful point and Mallon stretched Armagh's lead with another score. And when Mags McAlinden's effort struck the post and went over Armagh knew it was going to be their day.
McKenna struck over another point before O'Hanlon put the game beyond doubt with a coolly converted penalty.
Still Armagh weren't finished as Louise Kenny, McCoy and McKenna added points and Monaghan's limited response was not enough to prevent the Orchard girls from winning the Ulster title and reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals, which will be played in August.
MONAGHAN: Linden Martin, Joanne Geoghegan, Yvonne Connell, Christina Reilly, Aoife McAnespie, Sharon Courtney, Grainne McNally, Amanda Casey, Nicola Fahy, Ciara McAnespie (0-1), Ellen McCarron (0-1), Cora Courtney (0-2), Therese Scott, Cathriona McConnell (1-2) and Niamh Kindlon (0-1, free). Eileen McElroy for McNally 44' and Laura Boylan (0-1, free) for McConnell 53'.
Subs: Muireann Atkinson for Fahy 20', Niamh Callan for Kindlon ht'
ARMAGH: Katie Daly, Mairead Tennyson, Caoimhe Morgan, Louise Kenny (0-1), Sharon Reel, Niamh Marley, Marian McGuinness, Niamh Henderson, Caroline O'Hanlon (1-2, pen), Sinead McCleary, Fionnuala McKenna (0-6, 3 frees), Aoife McCoy (0-2), Lauren McConville (0-1), Kelly Mallon (1-1) and Mags McAlinden (0-1). Subs used: Siobhan Mackle for McConville 47' and Danielle Morgan for Kenny (60+2). Subs: Catherine McAlinden, Siobhan Feeney, Roisin Murphy, Megan Burns, Sarah Marley, Catherine Marley, Caoimhe Murray, Eve Lavery, Anna Carr, Cailin Duffy, Shauna Grey, Aisiling Hughes and Rebecca O'Reilly.
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