HomeFootballArmagh begin All-Ireland bid with victory over Meath

Armagh begin All-Ireland bid with victory over Meath


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TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ SFC Group 1, round one

Armagh 3-9 Meath 1-14

ARMAGH manager Gregory McGonigle was delighted to see his side begin their All-Ireland campaign with a win over Meath on Saturday.

Just a point separated the sides at the end, a late Niamh Coleman goal proving decisive for the Ulster champions, which put them three ahead.

Although Meath got the last two points to close it to the minimum, and had an extra player on the field, they could not get the point they needed to draw or the goal to win.

“We’re delighted to get off to a winning start. Obviously, you would have preferred to be more comfortable but in fairness to Meath they came very well structured and set up from a coaching point of view,” said McGonigle.

“Performance-wise good parts, parts to work on. Possibly the highlight is when Meath went three points up and they were 1-11 to 1-8 and seemed to be controlling the game and winning the battles that we were still able to pick that moment of magic and get back into the game, score a goal and kick on from there. I’m just delighted to get the one-point win.”

McGonigle was forced to shuffle the pack from the Ulster final, with Aimee Mackin and Louise Kenny out injured, replaced by Niamh Reel and Sarah Quigley. Veteran Caroline O’Hanlon, who had been named to start made way for the return of Blaithin Mackin, making her first appearance of the year.

It was all square at half-time, 1-4 to 0-7, Armagh getting the goal after a lovely well-worked move that began with Anna Carr’s kick-out, which found Aoife McCoy, who received the end pass after some nice play from Niamh Henderson and Lauren McConville to fire to the back of the net after just six minutes.

The goal kept the home side’s noses in front until the 22nd minute when Meath levelled through Ciara Smyth, 1-3 to 0-6. Eve Lavery nudged Armagh ahead from a free, her third of the half, but Emma Duggan responded likewise to leave it level at the break.

Meath led on the resumption through Sarah Wall but Armagh hit the next four points – a Kelly Mallon free, two from Lavery from play and Mackin – to put them three in front, 1-8 to 0-8, the half not 10 minutes old.

However, the game swung back in Meath’s favour when they yielded 1-3 without reply, Aoibhin Cleary with 1-1 either side of two Duggan points.

Armagh’s response was emphatic as McCoy got in for her second goal to level the game up 2-8 to 1-11 with 10 minutes remaining.

It was still level with under three minutes of normal time remaining when Kelly Mallon lofted a free high into the full-forward line, which was met nicely by Coleman, who punched to the back of the net. Meath added further points from Meadbh Byrne and Duggan but it was not enough.

Armagh now face Tipperary in the second group game this Saturday with a draw enough to see them through to the quarter-finals, but a win would guarantee them a home tie.

“It’s looking like a trip to Thurles on Saturday, either a point or a win will get us through and we are looking to go there and try and get the win which would guarantee us a home quarter-final which would be huge going into the last eight,” added McGonigle.

‘’Overall happy to get three points on the board and looking forward to getting the bodies refreshed and then back to preparing for Tipperary next Saturday.

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