Orchard ladies favourites for semi-final clash

Armagh v Laois
Saturday, O’Raghallaigh Park, 2pm

By Kieran Lynch

ARMAGH have made an explosive start to their 2022 season, as they have flown out of the traps to pick up three wins from three to date.

The Orchard County have carved through their Ulster neighbours in Division 2B as they have overcome Tyrone, Cavan and Monaghan, with the smallest margin of victory being a seven-point victory over the Farney.

All of that will count for nothing, however, if Armagh are unable to beat Laois this Saturday in the Division Two semi-final.

The importance of the next game won’t be lost on the Orchardwomen, as they strive to get out of the second division and play at the top level of league football for the first time since 2017. Five years out of Division One is a drought for a team with the quality that they possess, and Armagh will be looking to right the wrongs of their previous campaigns, which saw them falter at the semi-final stage twice in the last four years.

So far in this campaign, 2020 Footballer of the Year Aimee Mackin has remained the team’s talisman, as she had scored 2-14 over the three games, but Armagh have plenty of firepower across the squad, as six different players have found the back of the net in the three games Ronan Murphy’s side has played.

Armagh will be without Caroline O’Hanlon who has a Manchester Thunder netball fixture, but they will still feel that they have enough depth in their squad to get by as the league has provided Murphy with an opportunity to make full use of his squad. Armagh made nine substitutions against Tyrone, and six against Monaghan as they blood in new talent.

One such talent is Killeavy teenager Grainne Boylan, who is regarded as an exciting prospect within the county. Having come off of the bench in their first two matches, she was in from the start last time out against Monaghan.

Laois are Armagh’s opposition this weekend, but the Leinster side will go into the game as heavy underdogs. The O’Moore County were able to defeat both Clare and Tipperary on their first two days out, but a 17-point drubbing at the hands of Kerry leaves question marks as to whether they will be able to cause Armagh any problems on Saturday.

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