Mid-term report: Armagh hold promotion hopes in their own hands as counties prepare for short break

By Michael  McMullan

ARMAGH’S promotion hopes remain in their own hands after five straight wins have them sitting at the top of Division Two as some of Ulster’s counties prepare for a weekend off.

The Ulster champions host Westmeath after the league break before making the trip to second placed Tipperary in the final game.

Under new manager Shane McCormick, Armagh have been the form team and have kept three clean sheets in five games with Clodagh McCambridge and Lauren McConville key cogs in their defence.

A 0-10 to 0-5 win over All-Ireland intermediate champions Laois was their tightest corntest to date in their last outing.

Aimee Mackin has hit a whopping 5-16 so far with Caroline O’Hanlon also getting her first game marked off in the win over Laois.

Alex Clarke and Shauna Grey are long-term injury concerns, but the Orchard are well placed to make a return to the top flight for the first time since 2017.

Division One has proved a tough assignment for Donegal who sit rock bottom with five defeats in as many games.

After seven seasons in the top flight, they are in transition after their exploits at the cutting edge of league and championship competition.

Maxi Curran’s charges were on the wrong end of a 5-11 to 0-1 hammering in Cork last weekend.

They now have two weeks to prepare for the visit of fellow strugglers Mayo before hosting the Dubs on the final weekend.

Cavan are mid-table Division Two with games remaining. The Breffni side face a trip to a Laois team locked on nine points with them before an Ulster derby against a Tyrone team currently on six points.

The Red Hands will complete their league programme with a trip to Tipperary and the visit of Cavan.

At the basement, Monaghan have a crunch home game against Roscommon on Sunday week in a bid to stay out of relegation trouble.

The Farney County have only one win – 1-12 to 2-4 over Tyrone – to show for their five games this season. The Rossies are without a point and a win for Monaghan would be a massive step towards safety.

Outside of their defeats to pacesetters Armagh and Laois, Monaghan have been close in their other defeats and have some downtime to get revved up for the league finale.

Down are the only Ulster side in Division Three and they are save ahead of their final two games against Offaly (H) and Louth (A).

Peter Lynch came in as manager this season with an impressive management team and he will now have more of a focus on the upcoming championship.

The action is weekend is in Division Four, with Derry hosting Limerick as they bid for a second win of the season.

James McGurk came in as the new manager this season and they were winners over Kilkenny last time out, but a Limerick team with promotion aspirations will be a different challenge in the final Group B game.

Any two from Limerick, Leitrim or Wicklow will advance to the semi-finals.

In Group A, Fermanagh host London and Antrim are at home to Carlow.

The Saffrons were All-Ireland champions last season and their win over the Erne County puts them in pole position to book a semi-final spot.

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