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Armagh ladies back to winning ways

February 23, 2015

ARMAGH 2-19 KILDARE 2-8

Richard Bullick reports

Armagh made light of the absence of iconic captain Caroline O’Hanlon as they returned to winning ways in NFL Division Two by beating Kildare in Silverbridge.

The home team were without last season’s top two scorers but still rattled up the imposing tally of 2-9 with top teenage talent Aimee Mackin kicking 1-9 and fellow free-taker Kelly Mallon also shouldering responsibility well in contributing 1-4.

Tanya McCoy of Armagh Harps had been handed her first start at senior level while there were Orchard debuts off the bench for Forkhill’s Lauren Sheridan and Lissummon’s Sarah Gamble on a very satisfactory afternoon.

A late withdrawal from the Donegal game due to a stomach bug, veteran vice-captain Caoimhe Morgan took over as skipper with younger sister Sarah moving from the full-back line to take O’Hanlon’s place in midfield.

Third sibling Niamh returned after leading Liverpool Hope University to British Championship glory and it was a landmark afternoon for former Armagh stalwart Noel Marley as his fourth daughter, schoolgirl Catherine, also got a rare start up front.

Young soccer star Mackin, who kicked 2-4 on her first Armagh start earlier in the month, was available again after scoring five goals in two friendlies for NI Under 19s against Estonia.

All-Star nominee Sinead McCleary reverted to midfield for the first time this season in a brand new partnership with Sarah Marley, who hasn’t played there for Armagh since being surprisingly paired with O’Hanlon in the 2010 Ulster final.

Armagh showed no fewer than six personnel changes and a further seven positional switches from the Glenfin line-up against Donegal, All-Star corner-back Mairead Tennyson being the only outfield constant.

As well as the return of Caoimhe Morgan, Niamh Marley and Aimee Mackin, there were opportunities for Catherine Marley up front, Silverbridge wing back Roisin Murphy on her home ground and a first start for Tanya McCoy of Armagh Harps at corner-back.

In addition to the midfield duo of O’Hanlon and Henderson, the other players to drop out were young Grange girl Colleen McKenna, Dromintee’s Shauna Grey, Sinead Finnegan of Carrickcruppen and Armagh Harps forward Siobhan Feeney.

Kelly Mallon reverted to centre half-forward where she featured in the opening game with former captain Mags McAlinden moving in from the corner to the No 14 jersey.

It was Shane O’Neill’s who flew the flag for Camlough as Armagh built a six-point lead by half-time, Mackin kicking 1-2 as her team turned round ahead by 1-8 to 0-5.  There were three scores from Mallon with one apiece courtesy of the excellent Aoife McCoy, McConville and McAlinden.

The impressive Mackin kicked seven more points in the second half, which also brought one each for goal-scorer Mallon, acting vice-captain McCleary, McConville and impressive sub Moya Feehan who works so well with clubmate Mackin.

Kildare hit the Armagh net twice in spite of a couple of cracking saves from goalkeeper Katie Daly, whose kickouts were very effective throughout, but only added three points so the hosts’ interval lead had almost doubled by the final whistle.

Not even seven substitutions including first Armagh appearances for Gamble and the elder Sheridan sister along with a welcome return to action by Dromintee’s Sinead McCoy, who missed all of 2104 due to injury, could disrupt the home team’s momentum in front of a significant crowd.

ARMAGH: K Daly; M Tennyson, C Morgan (capt), T McCoy; R Murphy, N Marley, L Kenny; S McCleary (0-1), S Marley; L McConville (0-2), K Mallon (1-4, 2f), A McCoy (0-1); C Marley, M McAlinden (0-1), A Mackin (1-9, 4f).  Subs used: M Feehan (0-1), S Reel, S Gamble, B McCormack, C McKenna, S McCoy, L Sheridan.

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