Parkinson: Orchard squad primed and ready for the trip to Tipperary

By Shaun Casey

ARMAGH face a long trek to Tipperary this weekend, but the journey will most certainly be worth it if they can return home with the three points on offer which would guarantee them top spot in the group.

Gregory McGonigle’s girls needed a late goal from Niamh Coleman, along with two sensational majors from Aoife McCoy, to seal a one-point win over former All-Ireland champions Meath in round one.

And they did so without the injured Louise Kenny, the experienced Caroline O’Hanlon and sharpshooter Aimee Mackin, who is out for the year.

One a brighter note, Blaithin Mackin made her first appearance of 2024 while Eve Lavery rattled off 0-5 on the day.

“It’s summer football, the pitches are hard, it’s about just recovering as well as we can until then, and then we’ll go at it again. We’re down in Tipperary on Saturday, so we’ll travel down, we’ll have an overnight stay there. ” said Armagh mentor Darnell Parkinson.

“The first round was always going to be tough, obviously with the players we were missing.

“The Meath manager (Shane McCormack) was with us last year, so we knew exactly how hard it was going to be, and it probably turned out exactly the way we thought.

”We’ve had a big panel all year, and as we’ve said to the girls, you’re not just here to make up numbers, there will be opportunities, and that’s how it
panned out.”

Speaking on the likes of Lavery, who started for only the second time this year, Parkinson added: “There are players who haven’t played as
much that got out on the field last

“Eve has been going really well in training, she’s kept her head down, she’s worked hard, and fully deserved her start, and she’s repaid the faith.”

“What we’ve tried to tell everyone is that we’re going to need everyone between now and the end of the season.

“You have a panel for a reason, and they all stood up.

Armagh made the same lengthy journey last season when they travelled south for a Division Two league encounter, which they won comfortably in the end on their way to securing the league title.

They backed up that success this season, securing the Division One league crown for the first time in their history, while the Orchard ladies also collected the Ulster title after an extra-time win over Donegal.

O’Hanlon hit 2-1 from midfield in that most recent tie with the Premier County, and Parkinson hopes she will be available for selection this weekend.

“Caroline is Caroline,” Parkinson laughed.

“Caroline probably hasn’t been fully functional all season but she’s a player that is obviously so hard to leave out and she’ll never completely rule herself out.

“But I think at times you almost have to protect certain players from themselves, and that’s what we did with Caroline last weekend.”

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