Hard work is Armagh ladies’ key ingredient

By Shaun Casey

PLAYING against the top teams in Ireland and measuring yourself against them is where Armagh want to be said their manager Greg McGonigle, whose side opened their account with a five-point win over Waterford last weekend.

Two goals inside 60 seconds from Aimee Mackin and Aoife McCoy helped Armagh hold their Munster opponents at arm’s length in the first round, but the Orchard County are expecting a step up in class this weekend.

They make the long trek south to face Cork, the side that knocked them out of the All-Ireland series last summer, and while that may add an extra slice of motivation, getting the best out of themselves is the main thing for McGonigle.

“That’s what you want in Division One, you want to be playing these top teams like Cork, Waterford, Kerry and Dublin,” said the former Monaghan and Dublin manager.

“We have Clodagh McCambridge at full-back and Aimee Mackin up front, I think we have as good a full-back as there is in Ireland and as good a full-forward as there is in Ireland, so to me, if we can get everyone else working in between then we have a serious chance.

“Obviously you have Anna (Carr), Caroline O’Hanlon, I thought Niamh Coleman put in a serious shift and Grace Ferguson as well and I think there’s still more in us.

“I said that to the girls at our meeting on Thursday night, that we’ve only scratched the surface. We’re only going eight or nine weeks but it’s about getting buy in to the concept of hard work.

“If you work hard every time you pull on an Armagh jersey, if you can try and grow into it instead of maybe hiding and shrinking, I think we’re fit to do well in Division One.”

It’s Armagh’s first away trip of the season and journeys to Meath and Mayo will follow in the coming weeks. Armagh will welcome Galway, Kerry and Dublin to the Orchard County as well, and winning their home games is the priority.

They got things up and running in round one with a convincing win over Waterford in what turned out to be a game of two halves. With the breeze at their backs in the first half, Armagh took charge of the encounter and held on to win by five in the end.

“The big thing we targeted, we want to win our home games and conditions were a big factor today and they defended deep, but the girls put in a massive shift in the second half,” added McGonigle.

“We were unfortunate with their first goal and then we were obviously trying to be aggressive against the wind on the kick-out and we got caught, they broke and got another goal, but they’re wee things that we will learn from.

“It’s a good first game back in Division One since 2017, to get three points on the board, but we’ll get ready now for Cork next week, it doesn’t get any easier.”

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