New Orchard boss chasing fast start

By Kieran Lynch

ARMAGH camogs get their new season underway on Saturday as they begin their Division 3A campaign with a home encounter against Mayo.

The Orchard County have new management on board for 2023, with Sean Hughes coming in, and he’ll be backed up by Ronan McWilliams. Hughes says that things are coming along well, and he’s hopeful that everything gels on the day.

“The girls are going good there in training,” he said.

“I would know the camogie scene in Armagh over the last while, as I’ve managed Ballymacnab over the last four years, so I already know most of the girls. We’ve settled in really well so far, and the girls are working very hard, which is all we can really ask for.”

Having last played in the first week of August, when they lost the All-Ireland Junior Championship final against Antrim in Croke Park, it has been a long wait for Armagh to get back on the field, so they will be chomping at the bit to get going this weekend.

And once the league gets underway, the games come thick and fast, with their three group games coming week after week. If they were to reach the league final, they will play five matches in six weekends.

“When it gets to this stage of the year, the girls really just want to get out and play matches,” said Hughes.

“So, it’s good that the league is throwing in. The games are coming fairly quickly after one another, so you’re just hoping that you don’t pick up any injuries or that sort of thing in the games, because we play three Saturdays in a row.

“When you’re a player, you just want to be playing matches, so it’s good to have the games – and that’s what you have a squad for. So, to be honest, I think it’s a good thing that the games come week on week.”

As ever, Armagh will be looking to lethal forward Ciara Donnelly to carry the scoring threat, rock-solid Gemma McCann to hold down the fort in defence, and Rachael Merry to be the team’s creator in chief.

However, one to watch out for is exciting prospect Sinead Quinn. The Derrynoose teenage forward won Player of the Match in Armagh’s All-Ireland Junior semi-final win over Cavan last year and received a College All-Star award for 2022.

In terms of the upcoming league campaign, the main goal is that the girls do themselves justice on the field.

“All you can ask for and all that you can hope for is that they play to their potential,” said Hughes

“If they perform they could be there or thereabouts for a league semi-final position, and that’s all we can set out for them at this point.

“There is a fair bit of experience in the squad and we’ll be hoping to build on that, and bed in the newer players we have had come in.”

Armagh face off with Mayo at Middletown to get their league campaign kick-started on Saturday, and Hughes says that the team are entering into the unknown.

“Mayo are a bit of an unknown quantity,” he said.

“They came out of Division Four last year, so I’d imagine that they’re going to be up for it, and it will be a fairly competitive game.

“A lot of the teams are probably unknown entities, so for us, we’ll just be focusing on getting a win with our first home game.”

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