BY KIERAN LYNCH
REIGNING three-in-a-row Ulster Senior champions Armagh will be hoping to book their place in the provincial decider – and showcase their class – in front of what is sure to be a capacity crowd at St Tiernach’s Park Clones, against Cavan on Sunday.
The game – which originally listed as a home game for the Orchard County – will instead serve as the curtain raiser for the Armagh v Derry Ulster SFC final, and Armagh centre half-back Lauren McConville is delighted with the decision to move the game.
McConville and her younger brother Cian both represent Armagh in the different codes, as well as the McCambridge siblings and the Mackin quartet, she believes that the double header ensures that families won’t have to make difficult decisions, whilst playing in front of a huge crowd can grow the women’s game.
“That’s a really exciting factor for us,” said McConville, regarding the game being played in Clones.
“We have always been saying that it’s something which should really be happening when the opportunity is there.
“For us, a big factor is that families, other relatives, and friends won’t be divided on the day, because that would have put people in a difficult position.
“I don’t think I will ever have played in front of as big of a crowd as is expected at Clones, so it’s an exciting occasion to look forward to.
“I’d like to think that we will get a good bit of support off the back of this and hopefully we’ll be able to put a good performance in. Also, it will be important to showcase the sport of Ladies Football.
“We want to be a team that younger players can look towards, so that they can follow in our footsteps and hopefully get to play on such a big occasion themselves one day.”
Armagh got their Ulster campaign off to a winning start last weekend, but appeared to be in trouble, when they fell 2-1 to 0-2 behind early on against Donegal.
However, Shane McCormack’s team turned it around to win relatively comfortably – 1-15 to 2-4 – in the end.
“We can take confidence from the win,” said McConville.
“It was a tough game; probably tougher than the score-line reflects. We weren’t happy with our start and probably the first half as a whole, and that’s something we will have to look at rectifying this week.
“But for all that said, it was nice to continue our winning streak. The vibes are good in the camp at the minute.”
As the Crossmaglen Rangers star mentioned, Armagh have been on a 100 percent winning run in 2023, with nine wins from nine competitive fixtures.
That run began on January 22 when they defeated Cavan 2-8 to 0-5, and they’re up against the same opposition this weekend, needing a draw to guarantee their spot in the Ulster final.
“Cavan ran Donegal really close, so we’re expecting a tough battle,” said McConville.
“They set up with a very strong defensive structure, so it’s hard to know what sort of a game we will be in for, but we know that we’ll need to be well up for it, if we’re to get over the line.”