Armagh let victory chance slip
Tuesday, 21 February 2017
REPUBLIC of Ireland soccer international Sarah Rowe put the boot into Armagh's hopes of a top four finish in this season's NFL Division One as she even eclipsed Cora Staunton at Clonmore.
The Orchard defence kept the most prolific forward in the history of ladies gaelic to the relatively modest tally of 1-6 in this high-scoring game but full forward Rowe broke Armagh hearts with her 2-6.
She showed her soccer skills in slotting home from an acute angle after a weak kickout midway through the second half and then delivered a knockout blow when Armagh gave the ball away in attack towards the end.
The Orchard outfit found themselves on the losing side in spite of scoring 18 times, but they should have had many more with top-scorer Aimee Mackin notching up eight wides to go with her nine points.
Having displayed impressive patience in their famous first ever victory over All Ireland champions Cork at the same venue last time out, by contrast Armagh lacked composure at crucial times in this Mayo match.
They registered some 14 wides to only five from Mayo and the contrasting conversion rate was ultimately the difference between achieving a very valuable victory and slipping to a damaging defeat.
If Armagh miss out on a place in the semi-final line-up or worse still find themselves in real relegation trouble by the end of next month they will definitely look back on this match as a win, which got away.
The fact that they now face four away matches on the trot with tough trips to Galway, Dublin and Kerry before finishing at Monaghan may be enough to make the Orchard outfit favourites for relegation.
It would be highly ironic if the Orchard crew went down after inflicting Cork's first defeat for a year, but there are very small margins between being title contenders and the dreaded drop in what is an incredibly competitive top flight this season.
The afternoon had begun brightly for Armagh with Caroline O'Hanlon winning the throw-in, Mairead Tennyson winning her first battle with Staunton and Sinead Finnegan getting the game's opening point on three minutes after Aoife McCoy and Lauren McConville combined in attack.
A soft Staunton free and Rowe's first score put Mayo ahead but O'Hanlon immediately levelled and the teams traded points before an Armagh purple patch early in the second quarter brought frees from Mackin and McKenna either side of a McConville point in the space of three minutes.
Aimee Mackin put Armagh five up after typical probing by McCoy but a minute later Rowe deftly deflected the ball into the path of the onrushing Staunton who drove it into the home net.
Shauna Howley and a brilliant effort from Rowe made it three points in two minutes for Mayo but McCoy got a good score and Mackin had a goalbound shot tipped over for a point before Staunton rounded off the first half with a free from the left.
The lead changed hands several times in the third quarter but Armagh were left to rue more missed chances as Rowe's first goal left Mayo in charge and her second effectively killed off the Orchard challenge.
ARMAGH: C O'Hare; C Morgan (capt), C McCambridge, S Marley; B Mackin, M Tennyson, S Reel; C O'Hanlon (0-1), N Marley; L McConville (0-1), A Mackin (0-9, 2f), N Coleman; F McKenna (0-3, 3f), A McCoy (0-2), S Finnegan (0-1). Subs: E Lavery (0-1) for Finnegan (39 mins), M Sheridan for Reel (47), C Marley for McConville (54).
MAYO: Y Byrne; R Kearns (0-1), S Tierney (capt), M Carter; O Conlon, M Corbett, F Doherty; C McManamon, D Hughes; A Dowling, C Staunton (1-6, 4f), S Rowe (2-6); M McGing, J O'Malley, S Howley (0-1). Subs: G Kelly, A Gilroy.
Referee: Gavin Corrigan (Down).
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