Ladies football weekend roundup

By John Fallon

ARMAGH made history with a sixth successive win taking them into their first Lidl Division 1 final and centre-back Lauren McConville created her own milestone when she lined out for the Orchard County for the 100th time.

And she did it 27 years to the day since her father Jim captained Crossmaglen Rangers to their first All-Ireland club football title in 1997.

“Personally, today is really special,” said McConville after playing a key role as they held off a Mayo rally to win by 2-9 to 2-8 in Ballina. “Whenever I started out playing for Armagh I never thought I’d reach 100 games. I’ve been around the block a while now and I’m probably bringing that bit of experience to the team. I’ve been fortunate enough with injuries so I’ll keep going as long as the body allows.”

Their sixth win in a row completes a remarkable sequence for an Armagh side who won the Division 2 title last year by winning every game and now Greg McGonigle’s side are set to play reigning Division 1 holders Kerry or All-Ireland champions Dublin in the final at Croke Park.

“It’s just extra special that we’ve made it to the league final. Greg was saying at the end there that we’ve made history, so that’s special for the county.”

Goals from Aimee Mackin, who finished with 1-7, and Aoife McCoy helped build a 2-5 to 0-2 interval, but Mayo hit back in the second half with the wind and goals from Sinead Walsh and Saoirse Delaney saw the sides level heading into the dying moments before Mackin won it with a free for Armagh.

“That finish is a character-building thing for us,” added McConville. “We’re delighted to come away with the win. We were a bit lucky to have come away with the win. Credit to Mayo, they really, really put it up to us at the end.”

Mayo manager Liam McHale said they had the chances to win it, but didn’t take them.

“Very disappointed. Had loads of opportunities to win the game in the last 10 minutes and really, really had them on the rack – they couldn’t get out past their 45. But we kicked wide after wide.”

Dublin remain in contention after dishing out a 2-11 to 0-6 defeat to a Cork side who now face an uphill battle to remain in the top division.

Caoimhe O’Connor and Kate Sullivan grabbed goals in each half as the All-Ireland champions impressed who will play leaders Armagh next weekend.

“It makes it very interesting next weekend,” said manager Mick Bohan. “It may be taken out of our hands whether we get into a National League final or not, but still it’s great to be playing the table-toppers Armagh in the last game.”

Cork manager Shayne Ronayne knows they are no longer in control of their own destiny as they head to Meath for the final round.

“We’re depending on other results. Even if we won the game next week, we’d still be dependent on results in the next couple of games. We’re in this situation, we know we are. We’re hoping now next weekend against Meath that we can be a little bit better defensively, but we definitely have to be better offensively and hopefully we can do that.

“We had a very good 20 minutes, we were three points all and we were defending very well. I think the same thing that happened last week again, we played very well against Mayo for long periods, but our scoring rate is very, very poor. We’ve lost a lot of scoring forwards, but the forwards that are there now are going to have to step up to the plate.”

Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh led the way with a haul of 0-8 as Kerry ousted Meath by 1-15 to 0-5. They led by 0-9 to 0-3 at the break, restricting Meath to just two points after the restart and one point from play in the contest, with Emma Dineen getting the only goal of the game for the reigning champions.

“We’re one step closer to making the league final,” said Kerry captain Niamh Carmody. “It would be great to get back to Croke Park before the championship starts. We have it all to play for next weekend. Making the league final, I suppose, is in our own hands.”

Kerry will host Galway next weekend, whose big relegation clash with Waterford was postponed.

In Division Two, there were wins for Tipperary, Westmeath and Donegal while Tyrone and Kildare shared the spoils in what was a dress rehearsal ahead of their meeting in the Division Two final on April 7 in Croke Park. Defeat for Laois means they will compete in Division Three next season while Monaghan and Cavan await their fate next weekend.

In Division Three, Clare and Roscommon sealed promotion and a final meeting at Grant Heating St. Brendan’s Park, Birr on Saturday, April 6. Clare were resounding victors over Antrim at St. Joseph’s Doora-Barefield. Roscommon made home advantage count at St. Croans as they defeated Offaly by a single point, 1-11 to 1-10.

The relegation battle in this division will go right down to the wire with two from Louth, Antrim and Sligo set to make the drop. Next weekend’s clash between Louth and Sligo is a winner takes all battle, while Antrim will host Roscommon.

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 Round 6
Dublin 2-11 Cork 0-6
Armagh 2-9 Mayo 2-8
Kerry 1-15 Meath 0-5
Galway P Waterford P

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 2 Round 6
Tipperary 2-10 Monaghan 0-7
Westmeath 3-13 Laois 0-9
Tyrone 3-5 Kildare 2-8
Donegal 4-20 Cavan 0-5

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3 Round 6
Wexford 3-7 Sligo 1-7
Clare 10-7 Antrim 0-7
Down 4-12 Louth 2-6
Roscommon 1-11 Offaly 1-10

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