Armagh advanced to the TG4 Ulster SFC final with a 5-14 to 1-12 victory over Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday evening. Report by Richard Bullick.
Armagh’s ability to get goals at key moments proved crucial but they had to withstand a good rally from Monaghan prior to the break.
However, Armagh set the tone early when Aoife McCoy got the first of her two goals as they marched into a second successive Ulster SFC final with 14 points to spare in the end.
The hosts established a 13-point lead midway through the first half against a Farney team which came to town still searching for their first victory of 2019.
Monaghan, who have been Ulster finalists 17 times this century, closed the gap in the second quarter but Armagh recovered after the break and eased to a convincing victory.
Armagh got off to a dream start with a goal after just 18 seconds, McCoy hitting the Monaghan net after a sublime long ball by Caroline O’Hanlon found Blaithin Mackin.
Skipper Kelly Mallon added two frees from the left and Mackin kicked a long range point to put the hosts six ahead by just the fifth minute.
A free from Rosemary Courtney got Monaghan on the scoreboard but Mallon and All Star midfielder Caroline O’Hanlon landed frees in quick succession and McCoy pointed two minutes later.
Two towering points by Mallon from long range was followed by a second Armagh goal when Mackin’s shot came back off the woodwork and young Niamh Reel slotted the ball into the net.
That put Armagh 2-8 to 0-1 ahead midway through the opening period but to their credit Monaghan fought back and outscored the Orchard outfit 1-5 to a single point the the remainder of the half.
Corner back Casey Treanor and Chloe McBride each kicked good scores and although Armagh goalkeeper Caroline O’Hare saved a penalty from Cora Courtney, the Monaghan captain tucked away the rebound.
Reel broke the scoring sequence with a point for Armagh but Monaghan got three in injury time, Cora Courtney and Shauna Coyle from play sandwiching another Rosemary Courtney free.
Coyle also got the first score of the second half after good approach play and it took two timely intercepts in defence from O’Hanlon to break up promising Monaghan attacks.
But Armagh gave themselves breathing space with a 42nd minute goal, touched home by Eve Lavery, who added a point before giving way to All Star Aimee Mackin who hadn’t been deemed fit to start.
McCoy got Armagh’s fourth goal and Blaithin Mackin raised a fifth green flag for Lorraine McCaffrey and Fionnuala McAtamney’s team as the game ended in a torrential downpour.
Scorers – Armagh: A McCoy 2-1, K Mallon 0-5 (3f), B Mackin, N Reel 1-2 each, E Lavery 1-1, C O’Hanlon 0-2, A Mackin 0-1.
Monaghan: R Courtney 0-5 (4f), C Courtney 1-2 (1-0 pen), S Coyle 0-3, C Treanor 0-1, C McBride 0-1.
Armagh: C O’Hare, S Marley, E Lavery, R O’Reilly; C McKenna, C McCambridge, T Grimes; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; M Moriarty, A McCoy, K Mallon; A Donaldson, B Mackin, N Reel. Subs: A Mackin for Lavery (42), C Morgan for O’Reilly (46), N Murphy for Reel (52), M Watters for Mallon (54), C Towe for C McKenna (57),
Monaghan: B Tierney; N Kerr, S Boyd, C Treanor; A McAnespie, H McSkane, S Coyle; A McCarey, E McAnespie; R Courtney, C Courtney, C McBride; E Woods, M Monaghan, C McAnespie. Subs: B McAleer for McBride (55), L Flynn for Monaghan (56), N McGuirk for Treanor (57), R Hughes for McSkane (58).
Referee : Yvonne Duffy (Cavan).