Armagh clinch final spot

Lidl National League Division 1

Armagh 2-9  Mayo 2-8

By Brian Gillespie

ARMAGH have reached their first ever Lidl National League Division 1 final after holding off a Mayo revival at James Stephens Park in Ballina.

It took a late free from sharp-shooter Aimee Mackin to seal victory on a 2-9 to 2-8 scoreline and in reality, the league leaders were a shade fortunate to leave north Mayo with all three points as a resurgent home side were left to rue a number of missed opportunities in the second half.

The Orchard County hung on, however, and pounced with that late free, but they must have been stunned with Mayo’s second-half comeback after they went in at the break with a nine-point advantage, leading by 2-5 to 0-2 having played with the breeze.

Going into the game with five wins from five, Armagh were strong favourites against a Mayo team that has had a mixed campaign to date.

They wore that favourites tag well, content to soak up pressure and hit Mayo on the break, which they did to great effect.

Mayo, by contrast, found it difficult to penetrate the Orchard County’s rearguard and stuggled to cope when Armagh turned defence into attack with rapid-fire counters.

Scores were slow to materialise early on with just two frees – one apiece – inside the opening 10 minutes, Mackin on target for the visitors and Maria Cannon replying in kind for the home side.

Another Mackin free had Armagh ahead again on 11 minutes, and her team soon took control on the scoreboard on a day when Lauren McConville made her 100th appearance for the county.

They did survive a scare as Mayo, for once, cut through the rearguard, Hannah Reape and Aoife Geraghty combining to set up Kathryn Sullivan, whose shot on goal was well saved by the Armagh goalkeeper Brianne Mathers.

Armagh made them pay as the impressive Aoife McCoy went on a surging run from the middle before setting up Mackin who applied a low finish beyond the advancing Mayo ‘keeper Laura Brennan.

After Mackin followed up with another free, she then turned provider for McCoy for goal number two, and Mayo were reeling.

Sinead Walsh stopped the rot but Armagh had the last say in the opening half as Niamh Coleman scored with some ease, leaving her side in a commanding 2-5 to 0-2 lead at the break.

Right from the start of the second half, Mayo used the breeze and fired over three points in a row, and while McCoy settled Armagh with her first point of the afternoon, the game was enlivened when Sinead Walsh found the back of the net following Sinead Cafferky’s perceptive pass, making it a four-point game at 2-6 to 1-5.

Mackin put five between the teams again but Mayo surged once more, Walsh nipping in for a point before impressive substitute Saoirse Delaney executed a superb finish after a pass from Cannon, leaving the minimum between the teams.

Cannon made it a tied game at 2-7 each with a great effort from wide on the left. Mackin and Aoife Geraghty swapped scores to still leave it level approaching injury time, but the ever-reliable Armagh free-taker had the final. It was a difficult free on the wrong side for a left-footed shooter but Mackin guided the ball over superbly, sealing Armagh’s place in the decider with a round to spare.


Armagh: A Mackin 1-5 (0-3f), K Mallon 0-2f, A McCoy 1-1, N Coleman 0-1.

Mayo: S Walsh 1-2, S Delaney 1-1, M Cannon 0-3 (0-2f), L Cafferky 0-1, A Geraghty 0-1.

ARMAGH: B Mathers; G Ferguson, C McCambridge, R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Lavery, A McCoy, C Doyle; A Mackin, N Henderson, K Mallon. Subs: S Quigley for Mallon (41), E Druse for Lavery (41), M Ferguson for D Coleman (53), C O’Hagan for Doyle (60+1).

MAYO: L Brennan; D Caldwell, N O’Malley, S Lally; K Sullivan, E Murray, J Mortimer; A Geraghty, H Reape; F McLaughlin, A Fitzpatrick, M Cannon; S Cafferky, L Cafferky, S Walsh. Subs: C Needham for Mortimer (HT), S Delaney for Fitzpatrick (HT), C Durkan for Sullivan (45), E Ronayne for Murray (45), A Staunton for L Cafferky (50).

Referee: Aaron Clogher (Roscommon).


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