ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINAL
Armagh v Meath
Clones, Sunday, 2pm
By Niall Gartland
CASUAL fans of ladies football may assume that Armagh are going to win this one, but their All-Ireland quarter-final opponents Meath have made serious progress in the last 12 months.
The Royals bagged a highly convincing victory over Kerry in the Division Two final in June, with Stacey Grimes weighing in with 1-5 of their overall tally, and they’ve been just as impressive in their All-Ireland campaign.
They qualified for the knock-out stages with a fine victory over Tipperary, and fell only two points short of Cork in their other match, so Armagh boss Ronan Murphy knows they can’t afford to take anything for granted this weekend.
The Edendork man said: “Meath are a very good side, not only did they come out of Division Two but they did so pretty strongly. They were the form team in that division, and they were also very unlucky to get something out of their game against Cork. We’ll need to be very good to win the game.”
The Orchard ladies qualified from the group of death with one game to spare, but they didn’t take their foot off the gas when they played Mayo at the weekend, overcoming the Connacht opposition by 3-16 to 0-12. Aimee Mackin was in unstoppable form, hitting 3-6, but it was another serious all-round team performance.
Murphy said: “We’re happy with the team’s progress, we came through a tough group. The fact we had an extra game in one way helped us and in another way maybe hindered us as there’s more stress in the legs but happy to come through it .
“We’re also happy with the result at the weekend, it’s always good to beat a Division One team.
“Some people maybe thought it was a flash in the pan that we beat Mayo last year so it was good to beat them again.”
Sunday’s match against Meath is at Clones, but Murphy says that shouldn’t swing things one way or the other, even though it’s a shorter spin for Armagh.
“We know Clones well but I’m sure Meath are the same.They’ve great experience of playing at Croke Park and funny I think that’s one of the things that maybe stood to them when they played Kerry in the league final, that they knew the ins and outs of the stadium. I think they acclimatised to it better than Kerry did. I don’t think it’ll have any bearing on the game that it’s in Clones, it’s no major issue for them, they’re a very fit team so we’ll have to be at our best.”
The Orchard ladies are just as strong as last year and Murphy attributes that to the strength of his backroom team and the aptitude of his players.
“We’ve kept things fresh this season with a new coach and other members of the backroom. Shane McCormack has come in from Kildare and has done a great job.
“I suppose he brought a new dimension to things. Colm Traynor has also come in and been fantastic with his analytics. I’ve been really impressed with his knowledge and his expertise. Ruairi Grimes has the girls in tip-top shape through his strength and conditioning regime, and the girls have bought into it. Shane Bannon came in at the end of last year as well, and it’s great to have him as a selector as well. Denise Jordan is also in as goalkeeping coach, she’s a great help, a past player and has done a great job with our ’keepers.”