TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship
Armagh 3-12 Laois 2-8
By Andrew Egan
ARMAGH have had Laois’ number in league and championship lately, and they continued their dominance over the O’Moore County again in this TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship opener.
The Orchard County defeated Laois in an entertaining match to claim the Lidl NFL Division 2 trophy back in April. They were arguably more impressive here though, as Armagh had seven points to spare Laois on this occasion.
Armagh’s Kelly Mallon and Laois’ Sarah-Anne Fitzgerald traded points early on before the Ulster county pulled away at Laois Hire O’Moore Park.
Niamh Reel, Blaithin Mackin, Lauren McConville and Eve Lavery all raised white flags for the away side before they struck for the first of their two goals in the opening half.
Centre-forward Aoife McCoy found Niamh Reel inside and Reel coolly slid to the left of Eimear Barry in the Laois net.
Mo Nerney replied for Laois to stop the rot. However, a second pointed free from Mallon was followed with a second Armagh goal.
Armagh intercepted a Laois kickout and quickly went for the jugular. Caitriona O’Hagan played it across to Aoife McCoy inside, and she managed to get enough of a palm to it to trickle the ball home.
Laois finished the half well with points from Nerney (free), Orla Hennessy and Fitzgerald (free), but the home side still trailed by eight at half-time.
Laois’ Katie Donoghue and Armagh’s Caitriona O’Hagan traded points at the start of the second half before the home team grabbed a goal back.
Laura Marie-Maher saw her shot blocked down by Armagh but Donoghue was there to drive home the rebound.
Armagh responded positively to that goal though with points from O’Hagan, Lavery and McCoy to regain control.
Nerney replied for Laois with a free before they struck for a second goal when Donoghue again supplied the finishing touch.
However, Armagh held their nerve well after that. While Fitzgerald curled over a point for Laois to leave three between the teams, a Lavery point for Armagh was followed by the clinching goal.
McCoy rounded Laois keeper Eimear Barry and finished to the net to make sure Armagh made a winning start to their campaign.
Armagh: A McCoy 2-1, N Reel 1-1, E Lavery 0-3, K Mallon 0-2 (2f), B Mackin 0-2, C O’Hagan 0-2, L McConville 0-1.
Laois: K Donoghue 2-1, M Nerney 0-3 (3f), S.A. Fitzgerald 0-3 (1f), O Hennessy 0-1.
ARMAGH: A Carr; S Grey, C McCambridge, L Kenny; G Ferguson, L McConville, C Towe; N Coleman, E Lavery; B Mackin, A McCoy, E Druse; N Reel, K Mallon (capt.), C Hagan
Subs: M Ferguson for Grey, A Mackin for O’Hagan (both 44), N Marley for Towe (51), B Hendron for Mallon (60)
LAOIS: E Barry; S Farrelly, C Dunne, A Kelly; S Havill, E Healy (capt.), L Nerney; A Healy, O Hennessy; A Kirrane, L.M. Maher, G Moran, S.A. Fitzgerald, M Nerney, K Donoghue
Subs: T Byrne for Moran (54), Ellie O’Connell for Nerney (60)
Referee: P Smith (Waterford)