National League Preview – Armagh Ladies

Has ladies football ever been more popular in Armagh than it is at the minute? Their performances in 2020 saw the Orchard County faithful roll in behind them.

The ladies were outstanding in their All-Ireland Championship run while also going on to claim Ulster success.

Aimee Mackin is the biggest star in the sport at the minute and it was the Shane O’Neill’s star who shone the brightest last season.

Deservingly, Mackin picked up the Player of the Year award as well as claiming Goal of the Year, for her magnificent three-pointer against Dublin.

Armagh are far from reliant on their deadly forward as they have serious quality spread throughout the field.

The Marley sisters, Sarah and Catherine, are key to Armagh’s plans at both ends of the field.

Clodagh McCambridge is perhaps the best full back in the business at the minute while Blaithin Mackin can excel anywhere.

It’s the attack that draws so much attention, with Caroline O’Hanlon, Kelly Mallon and Aoife McCoy all fit to dominate games.

Ronan Murphy would have been disappointed with his sides displays in the league last season and will once again ply their trade in the second division.

They face three Ulster derbies in their section of the league, with games coming up against Tyrone, Monaghan and Cavan.

The Red Hands will enjoy the familiarities of home advantage in round one, kicking off on Sunday 23rd of May.

The Orchard County bettered their rivals twice last season, in both the All-Ireland and Ulster championships.

Tyrone did gain the upper hand in the 2020 league meeting however, so an intriguing opener will be expected.

In round two, Armagh will host last years beaten Ulster finalists Monaghan, and they will hope a repeat result will be on the cards.

These sides were both in division two last season, however never faced each other as the leagues were abandoned due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Likewise, Armagh will be heading into new ground when they come up against Cavan in the final game of the group stages.

They last faced off during the 2019 campaign, when the Orchard County ran out handsome winners, 2-17 to 0-3.

There’s no question that Ronan Murphy’s side are one of the top teams in the country and will be a contender for the All-Ireland crown later on in the year.

They will of course also be out to defend their provincial triumph of last year and confirm themselves as the top side in Ulster.

Promotion is surely the number one target and if Armagh want to continue to progress, they’ll need to be playing the top teams on a regular basis.