Orchard hoping for third time lucky

By Shaun Casey

FOR the third time in four years, Armagh have qualified for the National League final but this time they intend on getting their hands on the trophy. The previous two attempts have finished with near misses, against Wexford and Carlow.

Wexford were two points better off when the sides clashed in 2021, while Carlow edged through by the minimum of margins last season. This weekend another Leinster opponent in Laois stands in Armagh’s way in the Division 3A decider.

“We’re experienced in league finals at this stage, and we’ve been building from last year,” said Armagh joint-captain Leanne Donnelly. “We’ve been there or thereabouts a couple of times but just came up short so we’re hoping this league final goes differently.

“This is what we’ve been talking about all year, trying to get that promotion up to Division Two because that’s where you want to be. You want to be playing at the higher standard and that would be a big help to Armagh camogie.

“We just came up short in the last ten minutes those last two times so that’s what we’ve been working on too, just to keep the engine going heading into the final few minutes because it’s all in your head.

“The legs start to give up maybe, but we know we have it in ourselves to keep going, keep pushing to get over the line so hopefully Saturday will be a different story from those previous two years.”

The two teams have already clashed in the group stages of the league, with the O’Moore County coming out on top in a typical clichéd ‘goals win games’ affair. Simply put, Laois raised three green flags and Armagh didn’t raise any.

Donnelly missed the opening round of the league, which started with a victory over Roscommon, but was back in the squad for that Laois tie in round two and doesn’t think it’ll have much of an impact this weekend.

“That was four or five weeks ago now looking back at it,” said the Eglish native.

“They’ve obviously came on a right bit from that and same with us. They’re a good, strong side, so it’ll be a tough match.

“We’re all looking forward to it and this is where you want to be. You want to be in finals and playing against good opposition.

“They have a big threat up front, so we need to try and keep the goals to a minimum.

“There waerenine points in it the last time, but it didn’t really feel like there was that much in it. They got the goals very quickly when we weren’t properly focused but hopefully Saturday will be different. We’re all looking forward to it and hopefully we’ll get a bit of good weather.

“The semi-final (against Roscommon) was a couple of weeks ago now, so we’ve been picking up a good bit in training although the conditions have been tough over those last few weeks. But all is looking good for Saturday, hopefully we can do the business this time and get promoted,” she added

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