High five for Cruppen Ladies

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

CARRICKCRUPPEN ladies strolled into a fifth consecutive county final with Saturday evening's comprehensive 3-23 to 0-9 victory over Silverbridge which sets up a sixth showdown with Clann Eireann this decade, writes Richard Bullick.

With captain Caroline O'Hanlon as always setting the tone, Cruppen were well clear by half-time in Forkhill and simply pulled away further in the second period to almost match Clann Eireann's tally against Shane O'Neills in the first semi-final.

Former county forward Caoimhe Murray netted twice and added two points while O'Hanlon hit four left-footed points from play in an opening half which also saw vice-captain Marian McGuinness got the first goal for Cruppen.

The McCulloughs, 17-year-old Dearbhail and former Armagh Minor Aoife, scored 11 points from play between them in the match while Megan Cinnamond's haul of six included two frees.

This was always likely to be a very different assignment and the Bridge found themselves behind after just 12 seconds, Derbhail McCullough confidently pointing after O'Hanlon had run straight down the middle from the throw-in.

A free-flowing first 10 minutes produced 10 points as scores from Silverbridge's new county duo Denise Buckley and Niamh Reel prevented Cruppen from establishing a virtually unassailable lead too quickly.

However, with O'Hanlon running the show in imperious fashion, the favourites stretched away to lead by 11 points at the interval on an 1-14 to 0-6 scoreline and Carrickcruppen's margin progressively grew thanks as much to their determined defence as effective forward fire-power.

The scoring was rounded off by young Dearbhail McCullough's sixth point from play for a Cruppen team clearly benefiting from having the highly-regarded duo of Lorraine McCaffrey and Fionnuala McAtamney back at their coaching helm in recent times.

Facing Clann Eireann in their first ever Armagh Senior Championship semi-final had predictably proved a bridge too far for reigning Ulster Intermediate title holders Shane O'Neills at Clonmore last Wednesday night.

The Lurgan giants have lost only one game on Ulster soil since former Armagh manager James Daly took charge at the start of last season, a provincial semi-final against the mighty Donaghmoyne from Monaghan who went on to retain their All Ireland crown.

Against Shanes, the Orchard champions hit their stride towards the end of the opening period and went on to win on the emphatic scoreline of 3-24 to 1-4 with All Star forward Aimee Mackin, who had delayed having the finger broken against Westmeath operated on until after this game, getting all of the Camlough club's tally.

Shanes have lost five leading lights from their run to last December's All Ireland Intermediate decider with county trio Aoife McCoy, Katie Daly and Shauna Grey returning to their home club Dromintee, the accomplished Moya Feehan spending the summer in America and another stalwart Claire Garvey sidelined by injury.

This still very young Shanes side just trailed 1-3 to 0-8 after 20 minutes but Clann Eireann netted twice before the break to go in 2-11 to 1-4 up and leave the underdogs with a mountain to climb in the second half when, partly as a result of spurning points to chase goals, they were held uncharacteristically scoreless for the entire 30 minutes.

Clann Eireann added an unanswered 1-12 in that last half hour on an evening 16-year-old Dearbhla Coleman top scored with 2-4 while the Hendersons - Niamh, Aoibhinn and cousin Sarah - accumulated 1-13 between them and handball ace Megan McCann kicked four points.

Crossmaglen defeated higher division Dromintee 3-8 to 2-8 at Dorsey to reach their first Intermediate final for four years where they will again go in as underdogs against Sarsfields, who accounted for reigning Junior champions Granemore 2-12 to 1-5 at Lissummon.

This season's Junior final will be between Carrickcruppen ladies strolled into a fifth consecutive county final with Saturday evening's comprehensive 3-23 to 0-9 victory over Silverbridge which sets up a sixth showdown with Clann Eireann this decade.Ballyhegan, who saw off Lurgan side St Peter's, and Mullabrack, victors over newcomers Craobh Ciaran, an amalgamated team representing Derrynoose and Middletown.Meanwhile St Colman's College teacher Colette McSorley marked Tullysaran's return to the Armagh Senior Championship in camogie with 5-11 in an easy quarter-final victory over Aghagallon on Sunday.

McSorley 's haul took her aggregate tally to an astonishing 21-35 in her last four Armagh club championship matches, including Tullysaran's romp to the 2016 Intermediate title.


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