Armagh secure win despite late Rebel revival

Armagh 4-9 Cork 3-11

The full time hooter was music to Armagh ears as they held on bravely to secure a one point victory over a battling Cork side that refused to give in. Four second half goals proved crucial for the Orchard County with the likes of Caroline O’Hanlon, Blaithin Mackin and Kelly Mallon outstanding throughout while credit must also go to their defence who held out a lethal cork attack on numerous occasions.

Armagh made the brighter start when midfield partners Caroline O’Hanlon and Tiarna Grimes combined to set up Aimee Mackin for the games opening score. Two quick fire scores from Orla Finn and Ciara O’Sullivan saw the Rebel County led by the minimum of margins after eight minutes.

Both teams were wasteful during the opening exchanges while the first halves crucial score came though a Cork counter attack. Blaithin Mackin found herself in one-on-one with the keeper, forcing the Cork net minder to make a brilliant save, with the ball ending up in the net at the other end of the field as Cork’s counter resulted in Rhona Ni Bhuachalla driving the ball home when Ciara O’Sullivan had played her in.

Mackin did find the target three minutes later, this time raising a white flag after a one-two move with Kelly Mallon but Cork soon cancelled out Mackin’s good work and made it a four point game when Doireann O’Sullivan, who was a late introduction into the starting line up, split the posts.

The sides swapped scores with Aimee Mackin knocking over two scores while Ni Bhuachalla and Doireann O’Sullivan struck points for Cork. Cork could have went further in front when Ciara O’Sullivan shoot rattled the crossbar while Armagh similarly came agonisingly close to scoring a three-pointer when Aoife McCoy saw her effort bounce back off the post. This saw Cork retain their lead at the break, winning 1-5 to 0-4.

Like the first half, Armagh opened the scoring with Tiarna Grimes hitting her second after Kelly Mallon had found her with a beautiful cross field pass. Orla Finn kept Cork on top before Caroline O’Hanlon dragged her team back into the game striking 1-2 in quick succession, her goal a rocket into the roof of the net, seeing Armagh take a one point lead.

Armagh’s good form continued and they were soon four ahead when full forward Blaithin Mackin slid the ball low to the net, 11 minutes into the second period. Ciara O’Sullivan pulled one back for Cork but Armagh’s defence were well on top at this stage and their forwards fulfilled their duties at the other end of the field.

Mackin once again hit the target while quick thinking from Caroline O’Hanlon found Kelly Mallon unmarked, with the centre half forward driving in Armagh’s third goal to see them seven ahead. O’Hanlon’s kept driving her team forward with another point while half time substitute Mairead Watters hit the net for the 4th time.

Cork stormed back with two goals through Marie O’Callaghan and Libby Coppinger, the latter a rebound after the Armagh keeper, Anna Carr had brilliantly saved a Cork penalty. Orla Finn and Eimear Scally pointed with five minutes remaining to put just two points between the teams.

Cork owned possession of the ball for the final few minutes with Doireann O’Sullivan bringing them within one point. Armagh brilliantly held out for a heroic one point victory and refused to allow Cork to steal a levelling score, Armagh were fully deserving of their win and now march on to the All Ireland quarter finals.