All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship semi-final
Armagh v Dublin
Saturday, Kingspan Breffni, 4.30pm
By Niall McCoy
A ROCK at the heart of the Orchard backline, Clodagh McCambridge will be part of the last line of defence as Armagh try to cause a huge shock against four in-a-row chasing Dublin in Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final in Thurles.
Mick Bohan’s side are huge favourites to reach their seventh consecutive final, but the performances of the Clann Eireann full-back and her teammates in recent weeks suggests that this may not just be the cake-walk that some are predicting for the Leinster outfit.
The Orchard county topped their group in this truncated season as they hit six goals against Tyrone in their first outing before earning an impressive win over Mayo in a winner-takes-all contest at Parnell Park.
While Armagh were undoubtedly the better team, they missed a number of late chances and that left the door open for a Mayo smash-and-grab. McCambridge slammed it shut with a number of important interceptions coming down the stretch.
The defender feels that Ronan Murphy’s squad is in a really good place at the moment.
“We didn’t have the best of starts to the league and the break, when it came, probably helped us,” she said.
“It allowed me to reflect personally on what I wanted to do better and the team could look at what they wanted to do better.
“Caoimhe Morgan retired last year and she was in the full-back line. She would have been such a big voice and personality and it maybe took that break for me to realise that I needed to step up and take on that leadership role. I don’t mind the responsibility.
“Our forwards get the credit, and they deserve that credit, but it’s nice that the defending has been getting some credit too because all over the pitch people are doing great defensive work. We are working as a unit.”
This is Armagh’s first semi-final since 2015 when they were outclassed by Dublin.
McCambridge, part of the minor squad that lost to Tipperary in the All-Ireland B final that season, had been drafted into the senior squad ahead of the contest, and she is hopeful that they can give a better account of themselves this time.
“Armagh just didn’t show up on the day, they just didn’t play as well as they could have,” she said.
“I think we have really improved each year and we have got a lot more experience now.
“Even from last year when there was a kick of a ball between ourselves and Mayo (All-Ireland quarter-final), it may have been a strange season but we have that extra year of experience and that showed against them this time.
“We came out of the blocks flying and everyone has been really looking forward to the games, there’s a real hunger and a real belief there.
“We were definitely underdogs going into the Mayo game and if people want to label us underdogs here again, that’s no bother. We’ll just try and look after ourselves.”
This match was originally scheduled for Thurles but after complaints from the Orchard county about the trip – the players will travel separately by car – it has been moved to Kingspan Breffni.