Armagh took on Cavan in their second game of the 2016 National League. The game took place in Armagh’s home venue – The Athletic Grounds and despite heavy hailstones during the team warm up, it turned into perfect weather for a match, with only a cool breeze.
Armagh were on the attack from the throw-in (Bernie Murray sending the Referee to the ground), and with only a few changes to their starting team from the Dublin game, it was clear to see the girls were on top form.
The first attempt of a score from Armagh went wide but less than 2 minutes into the game Armagh got their first score of the day. Ciara Donnelly passed the ball into Niamh Markey who was waiting on the edge of the square and blasted the ball into the back of the net.
Cavan tried to react to the score with one of their own hitting the ball well down into their forwards, but Grainne Kelly wouldn’t give her player an inch, winning the sliothar from high in the air and hitting a perfect strike down the wing to Shelly McArdle who pointed from a tight angle.
Rachael Merry was next to get a score, she ran at the Cavan defence and when she was blocked down Niamh Markey stepped in to help her out, hand passing the ball back to Rachael who drove the ball over the bar with ease.
Cavan tried to get the ball past the midfield line but Grainne Kelly, Eimear Hayes and Siodhna Woods were out in front, winning possession and driving it back up into the Armagh forwards.
Bernie Murray and Andrea Mc Alinden were unstoppable in midfield. They were assisting the half backs, offering support to the forwards. Bernie Murray was able to get a fine ball delivered into Rachael Merry in the corner, who slotted over another point from about 40 metres out.
Ciara Donnelly and Bernie Murray worked very well together hand passing to each other and running on for the pass back. As a result Ciara Donnelly got her first point of the game with 7 minutes on the clock.
The first time Cavan broke through Armagh’s half back line Claire McKinley took control, with a fine catch of the sliothar on the 21 yard line and driving it back into the half forwards.
Ciara Donnelly then scored another point from a 45. The Armagh girls showed their team play ability throughout the game, with plenty of girls offering support. Andrea McAlinden passed a ball into Bernie Murray who found Niamh Markey beside the goals . Niamh Markey was then able to finish the play by driving the ball into the top corner of the goals, were the Cavan goalkeeper had no chance of getting her stick to the ball.
Armagh then received a free just outside the 20 yard line and Ciara Donnelly hit the ball over the bar with ease. Armagh went on the attack again, and when the ball dropped short the Cavan defence blocked it out, but Sarah Molloy who was making her presence known, went after it and got her first point of the game.
Shelly McArdle was causing serious trouble for the Cavan backs, and she took off with pace along the wings. She was next up to score with point, delivered from a very tight angle. Eimear Hayes stopped the Cavan half forwards from advancing by tackling the ball and hitting it up the line, Sarah Molloy then pointed.
Rachael Merry was next to score, striking the ball beautifully from a tight angle and sending it between the two uprights.
Siodhna Woods was also on form, she was continuously out in front of her player, making great clearances from the half back line and sending the ball back up the field.
Niamh Markey was next to get a point on the board for Armagh followed by a powerfully hit goal from Shelly McArdle. Bernie Murray was advancing into scoring distance when she was tackled by a few Cavan girls, Ciara Donnelly was in an open space and Bernie sent the ball to Ciara who looked up and took the score opportunity sending the ball over from the bar. Rachael Merry was then fouled and Ciara Donnelly scored a point from the free.
Centre half back Grainne Kelly was last to score in the first half, winning a fine ball inside the midfield line and powerfully striking it over the bar, leaving the half time score Armagh 3-14 Cavan 0-0.
Armagh made one change to the team at half time replacing Clare McKinley with Colleen O’Hare. The Orchard girls were slower to get on the attack in the second half with their first few chances going wide of the posts.
Cavan got the ball into scoring distances but Nicole Conway was able to block the ball down and Hannah McGeown wouldn’t allow the Cavan girls through, standing strong and keeping the ball out of the danger area.
Cavan got their first score of the game stroke by Katie Smith but Nicole Conway got her stick to it before it could fall into the Armagh goals and sent it over the bar.
Hannah McGeown took control of a ball coming at speed on the ground and sent it across the field to Rachael Merry, who passed it on to Sarah Molloy who got Armagh’s first score of the second half.
Armagh made their second substitute of the game bringing on Eimear O’Kane to replace Sarah Molloy, quickly followed by Caoimhe McKenna who replaced Grainne Kelly.
Ciara Donnelly got another point for the Armagh girls before Clodagh Farrell was introduced to the game replacing Aoibhinn McManus. Niamh Markey set up the next score by hand passing the ball to Ciara Donnelly who was running straight for the goals and the Cavan defence couldn’t stop her as she rattled the sliothar into the back of the net.
Niamh Markey got the next goal, receiving a ball from Rachael Merry just outside the square. Leanne Donnelly was next to be introduced to the game replacing Rachael Merry, followed by Cealla Casey who replaced Siodhna Woods. This is the first time Leanne, Cealla and Eimear O’Kane have represented County Armagh at senior camogie level and they showcased the talent coming through from the underage ranks within Armagh.
Leanne Donnelly made the most of the first ball she came into contact with scoring a goal. Niamh Markey again made her presence known in full forward by scoring two more goals in the space of a minute, using her full strength whipping the ball with full force into the back of the net.
Cavan then made a substitute replacing Grainne Power with Erica Joyce. Cealla Casey transitioned into the game with ease winning ball around the middle of the field and passing it up to Clodagh Farrell. Leanne Donnelly proved just how dangerous she was in the forward line, by getting another goal and a point before the end of the game, leaving the final score Armagh 9-17 Cavan 0-01.
Next Game for the girls is on Sunday 13th March at 2pm start. This is a home venue for Armagh. Venue to be announced.
Credit : Nicola Woods – Armagh Camogie PRO – firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by John Merry