ARMAGH pipped Donegal at the post in the Ulster Senior Ladies Championship final.
Donegal 3-11 Armagh 3-12
By Chris McNulty at Healy Park
With 16 seconds left on the game clock, Donegal had a ’45, but they conceded possession and their time had run out.
Geraldine McLaughlin, who was named as the Player of the Match, kicked 1-10 for Donegal, but it was an afternoon that will leave a lot of lingering regrets for Maxi Curran’s squad.
Armagh scored only once in the first 17 minute of the second half, four appoints thereafter proved key with the match winner arched by Fionnuala McKenna.
There was just over eight minutes to play when Geraldine McLaughlin intercepted a kick-out from Anna Carr, the Armagh goalkeeper.
McLaughlin might have been under stern pressure, but her powerful shot proved too hot to handle, bring Donegal level at 3-11 apiece.
Donegal had a major let off when Alex Clarke broke on a counter-attack, but fired off target.
McKenna won the Championship for Armagh with the last, decisive say and an out-of-sorts Donegal were unable to summons another riposte.
Donegal, who were without veteran forward Karen Guthrie, were dealt an early blow when Niamh Carr was sent to the sin bin for a foul on Kelly Mallon, the Armagh captain, inside the opening minute.
When Niamh Reel polished off a fine Armagh move in the fourth minute by lofting over the Donegal goalkeeper, Aoife McColgan, for the game’s first goal, Donegal were rocked.
But they were in front again within two minutes, the Tir Chonaill side carving out a brilliant goal.
Captain Niamh McLaughlin surged through the middle and worked a one-two with Geraldine McLaughlin before palming home.
However, the on-song Aimee Mackin – the LGFA Player of the Month for July – tucked home a second Armagh goal before the water break. Blaithin Mackin made the incision and her the composed finish by eyer sister, Aimee had Armagh 2-3 to 1-2 in front.
Donegal were paling water from the boat as the Orchard reeled off a rapid 1-4 in a blistering four-minute spell, Aimee Mackin firing in her second goal to extend the lead to 3-7 to 1-4, a sin-binning for full-back Evelyn McGinley adding further to the difficulties.
However, Donegal got a lifeline just before half-time, Katy Herron batting in after combining with Niamh McLaughlin, bringing Donegal to within five points at the break, 2-5 to 3-7.
McColgan found herself called ashore, although the Malin woman could count perhaps count herself an unfortunate victim of that period where Armagh gained a foothold.
After Geraldine McLaughlin rattled over three points at the outset of the second half, Armagh goalkeeper Anna Carr thwarted Niamh McLaughlin with a superb save at close range.
At the water break in the second half, Donegal were just a point in arrears, the deadly Geraldine McLaughlin taking her tally to ten points and narrowing the deficit to 2-10 to 3-8.
Armagh’s only score since half-time arrived via Blaithin Mackin in the 43rd minute, Rónán Murphy’s team inhibited by sin-bins for Kelly Mallon and Megan Sheridan in that spell.
Blaithin Mackin boomed over a delicious point to extend Armagh’s advantage and while Donegal, spurred by Geraldine McLaughlin’s scores, hit back, it wasn’t enough.
Donegal: Aoife McColgan; Niamh Carr, Evelyn McGinley, Annie Logue; Treasa Jenkins, Nicole McLaughlin, Amy Boyle Carr; Katy Herron (1-0), Shelly Twohig; Bláthnáid McLaughlin, Niamh McLaughlin (1-1), Niamh Boyle; Niamh Hegarty, Geraldine McLaughlin (1-10, 3f), Kate Keaney. Subs: Roisin McCafferty for McColgan (27), Suzanne White for B.McLaughlin (37), Roisin Rodgers for Boyle (48), Kate McClenaghan for Hegarty (57), for Logue (60).
Armagh: Anna Carr; Grace Ferguson, Clodagh McCambridge, Niamh Marley; Tiarna Grimes (0-1), Lauren McConville, Blaithin Mackin (0-2); Niamh Coleman, Caroline O’Hanlon; Eve Lavery, Aoife McCoy, Catherine Marley (0-1); Aimee Mackin (2-2, 2f), Kelly Mallon (0-3f), Niamh Reel (1-0). Subs: Megan Sheridan for N.Marley and Alex Clarke for Reel (half-time), Fionnuala McKenna (0-1) for Lavery (48), Sarah Marley for Sheridan (53), Mairead Tennyson for B.Mackin (57).
Referee: Brendan Rice (Down).Tags: