A Merry ending to league action for Armagh

Armagh 0-14 Laois 2-7

By Daragh Ó Conchúir

A RACHAEL Merry point from a free deep into injury time grasped the Very Camogie League Division 3A title for the Orchard women, in a pulsating encounter that ended in a welter of excitement at Abbotstown.
Having lost last year’s final by a point to Carlow and also fallen short in 2021, Seán Hughes’ side looked to be on their way as they led by four with 28 minutes elapsed.
The fantastic Aimee Collier slotted a couple of points from frees to halve that deficit though and a famous fightback looked to have been achieved when Ava Coss blasted to the Armagh net from 21m after tremendous work by Lucy O’Connor.
Four and a half of the minimum allotted injury time of five minutes had passed but Ciarrai Devlin was prompt with her puckout and within seconds, Merry was setting up the lively Sinéad Quinn for a tremendous equaliser.
There was still time for one more passage of play and when the rampaging Hannah Duffy was fouled, Merry kept her composure to register the winner from 40m out in front of the posts.
Merry is an experienced operator but was by no means the most experienced player on the pitch, as Jennifer Curry (40), who won the first of her eight All-Stars in 2004, the first of her four All-Irelands with her native Cork in 2002 and the first of her five Division 1 medals in 2003, provided considerable nous for her adopted Armagh.
Ciara Geoghegan was a star performer for the Ulster side, slotting five points from play, while Merry contributed the same tally.
Collier was magnificent for Laois and her penalty goal after five minutes helped her side settle in after a slow start. Armagh responded with four points on the trot, from Merry, Tierna Maxwell, Geoghegan and Merry again but a brace of points from Collier, who finished with a goal and six points, left them trailing by just 0-6 to 1-1 at the interval.
The second half was an arm wrestle for long periods, until it opened up in that dramatic final period and in the end, hard though the squad managed by Pat Collier and Robert Jones tried, it was Armagh’s day.

ARMAGH: C Geoghegan, R Merry (3fs) 0-5 each; S Quinn 0-3, T Maxwell 0-1
LAOIS: A Collier 1-6(1-0pen, 0-3fs, 0-1 45); A Coss 1-0; G Delaney 0-1

ARMAGH: C Devlin, M McCone, G McCann, Á Doyle, T Maxwell, N Forker, E Hayes, L Donnelly, C O’Kane, E O’Kane, S Quinn, M McGuigan, R Merry, C Geoghegan, J Curry. Subs: N Woods for O’Kane, K Convie for Doyle (both 42), C Crilly for Maxwell (49), H Duffy for McGuigan (55)
LAOIS: A Lowry, A Finley, L Daly, F Scully, J Quinlan, C Tynan, K Whelan, E Conroy, J Bergin, L C Fennell, A Collier, A Coss, E Hassett, L O’Connor, A Scully. Subs: A Walsh for Conroy (23), G Delaney for Fennell (27), S Delaney for Hassett (ht), S Creagh for Quinlan (37), R Deegan for Scully (47)

REFEREE: C Goff (Wicklow)

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