By Michael McMullan
WITH two wins from two, attacking ace Rachael Merry says Armagh camogs are exactly where they want to be in the All-Ireland race.
After losing the last two finals, the big picture is all about making the final step and getting their hands on the silver.
That’s for another day. In the short-term, the focus is on their third group game and a trip to Offaly.
Goals from Eimear Smyth and Orlagh Curry put them on their way to victory over Limerick on Saturday on the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds.
Armagh have +39 on second-placed Limerick in terms of score difference, so it would take an unlikely sequence of results for the Ulster side not to finish top.
“We ideally want to top the group to come out in a better position in the quarter-finals,” Merry said of their initial target.
After losing narrowly to Carlow in the league final, Sean Hughes’ side have returned with a renewed vigour.
“We are not going all the way down to Offaly to get beaten. That would be the main priority, to win by whatever it takes to get us top of the league,” said Merry, admitting they have still not flushed the Carlow defeat totally from the psyche.
“We are very disappointed we didn’t get over the line. There was only a point in it the end after winning all of our games. We want to keep our winning streak going and put that behind us.”
The big picture is getting back to Croke Park and making up for the last two seasons. Merry missed the remainder of the 2021 campaign – with hamstring surgery – that ended up with a three-point final defeat in the final.
Last year they lost the Dervla Cosgrove final when the Saffron star hit four goals in Antrim’s win over Armagh.
“I think everyone now is trying to pull together and get over the line this year,” Merry said of their overall target. “We have lost the last two finals in Croke Park which is not easy, so we are hoping for third time lucky.
“We have new management this year, a fresh set of eyes and hopefully it will be the last thing to get us over the line.”
Defeat leaves baggage. Twice, and it’s worse. But moving on is the Armagh focus. Offaly are next and the play-offs beyond.
Merry, who has committed to a football return with her club Granemore when the county camogie season concludes, is enthused by the ‘wee ball’ game in the county.
“There is so much going into Armagh camogie,” she said. “People are really stepping up their game in terms of coaching and underage. There is a great buzz about it at the minute and if we keep on winning the buzz will continue.”