All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter Final
Armagh v Kerry
Saturday, Tullamore, 5pm
By Shaun Casey
IT’S do or die this weekend as the All-Ireland series reaches the knockout stages of the competition. Armagh are back in the last eight, the hurdle they fell at last season, and they take on Kerry on Saturday, a team they know quite well.
The sides clashed in the recent Division Two league final in Croke Park and despite leading for the majority of the game, Ronan Murphy’s ladies ended up on the losing side.
The Kingdom grinded out a three-point victory and while that defeat ended Armagh’s promotion hopes, attacker Aoife McCoy insists her side aren’t carrying any baggage into Saturday’s tie.
“At this stage I would probably say no,” said McCoy, who scored 0-1 in that league decider.
“Obviously after the final itself we were very disappointed we hadn’t won and felt we left it behind us. However, as a team, we parked that defeat and have focused on championship ever since.
“Kerry are a physical side and have a well organised set up. We will need to be focused for the full entirety of the game, be clinical in front of goal and make smarter decisions while we have possession.”
McCoy is part of a deadly Armagh attack that includes Aimee Mackin, Kelly Mallon, Aoife Lennon and Alex Clarke, who is on the way back from long term injury, with Blaithin Mackin and Caroline O’Hanlon adding to the scoring threat from midfield.
The Orchard County outmuscled Monaghan the last day out, winning with 14-points to spare, to book their spot in the quarter finals having already drawn with All-Ireland champions Meath in round one.
McCoy points to the competitive edge in training and the squad depth within the team as the reason they are successful at the minute and the three in a row Ulster champions have shown they can compete at the very top level.
“Everything in the camp since the Ulster final has been really positive. I know personally, I’ve been really enjoying training and the standards are being raised each session, everyone is chomping at the bit for a starting position.
“We know we can compete with the best if we continue to work well as a team and focus on delivering a team performance. We have great depth now with everyone coming back from injury and those girls have made a massive impact in training and on match days.”