Hat trick hero helps Armagh halt Red Hands

Armagh 6-16 (34) Tyrone 3-13 (22)

Aoife McCoy proved to be the hero in Friday evenings All-Ireland group stages clash between Armagh and Tyrone.

This tie was a repeat of the Ulster semi-final played two weeks ago, but a much different Tyrone side showed up for this one.

They were much more direct and forced Armagh to fight for everything in what turned out to be a thriller.

Unfortunately for Tyrone, Armagh have quality spread throughout their team and it really showed in Breffni Park.

The attacking unit will once again get all the credit, posting an incredible 6-16, and it could have been more.

Tyrone raced into a five-point lead, 1-4 to 0-2, inside the opening ten minutes of the game, Eve Lavery and Aimee Mackin chipping in for Armagh.

The Orchard County responded to their slow start heroically with the next three scores, two of which raised green flags.

McCoy grabbed her first with a wonderful run through the defence before assisting Mackin in the next move, who powered past her marker and blasted the ball home.

Tyrone tagged on a further three scores, lead by the impressive Chloe McCaffrey and Niamh O’Neill, to put them one point ahead.

McCoy showed her class once again and a beautiful dummy bounce saw her break through for her second goal.

Tyrone grabbed another goal of their own, O’Neill making a brilliant catch before burying the ball to the net.

It was all Armagh for the final moments of the half however with another two goals courtesy of Caroline O’Hanlon and a rocket from Kelly Mallon.

Catherine Marley, who had a big hand to play in O’Hanlon’s three-pointer, Mackin and Mallon all raised white flags to give Armagh a 5-7 to 2-9 half time lead.

The sides exchanged scores early on before Tiarna Grimes hit a great point after turning inside her marker and swinging the ball over.

McCoy claimed her third goal of the evening to put some daylight between the sides, with Armagh now eleven ahead.

Tyrone did respond through another Niamh O’Neill goal but Armagh powered home in the final few minutes of the half.

Marley, Mackin (2) and O’Hanlon (2) all chipped in with scores as Armagh saw out what appeared to be a comfortable victory.

This was anything but. While the score line may suggest a big win, Armagh were pushed the whole way.

Ronan Murphy’s side now sit top of their group, with Mayo their next opponents, in two weeks’ time.

Team: Anna Carr, Sarah Marley, Clodagh McCambridge, Colleen McKenna, Tiarna Grimes (0-1), Blaithin Mackin, Grace Ferguson, Niamh Coleman, Aveen Donaldson, Catherine Marley (0-2), Aoife McCoy (3-0), Aimee Mackin (1-6), Caroline O’Hanlon (1-2), Kelly Mallon (1-3), Eve Lavery (0-2). Subs: Shauna Grey for C. McKenna, Niamh Reel for E. Lavery, Megan Sheridan for S. Marley, Alex Clarke for A. Mackin