National Football League – Round One
Tyrone vs Armagh
Sunday 23rd May – Healy Park – 2pm
The Armagh ladies get their show on the road on Sunday as they make travel short journey to Omagh for their round one clash with Tyrone.
Like their male counterparts, Ronan Murphy’s side head into a mini-Ulster championship in the league.
Armagh, Tyrone, Cavan and Monaghan make up Division 2A while Armagh will also face the Farney county in the All-Ireland and Ulster competitions.
First up is the old rivals Tyrone however and they are familiar foes as they pair clashed three times in 2020.
The Red Hands won the pre-lockdown league meeting in February of 2020 while Armagh were successful when the action recommenced.
The first game back was held in Crossmaglen and a first half demolition job by a fit again Aimee Mackin and Co sent Armagh through to the Ulster Final having saw off Tyrone.
They did likewise once again one week later, although they fought through a much tighter affair, with Aoife McCoy’s hattrick helping them over the line.
Those two wins helped kickstart a memorable season for Armagh that yielded their first Ulster Championship success since 2014.
Their win over Mayo sent them through to the last four and although Dublin gained the upper hand in the end, Armagh battled to the very end.
The Orchard County will hope they can carry that momentum into the league and get a good start to the push for promotion.
Armagh captain Kelly Mallon is likely to miss out, but Murphy has named a strong starting 15 to take the field against his native county.
Anna Carr is a guaranteed started between the sticks and the Carrickcruppen lady has been named in goal.
Sarah Marley, Clodagh McCambridge and Tiarna Grimes offer a rock-solid defence, ably assisted by Shauna Grey, Grace Ferguson and Megan Sheridan.
Aveen Bellew and Caroline O’Hanlon form a strong centre-field pairing that is well fit to dominate games around the middle third.
Niamh Coleman and Lauren McConville take up the two wing positions with Aoife McCoy sandwiched between them at eleven.
There’s plenty of scoring in the full-forward line as Player of the Year Aimee Mackin is due to start inside.
Her sister Blaithin has been named beside her, transforming back to the attack after spending last year at centre half back.
Alex Clarke makes up the inside line and the Crossmaglen prospect showed serious potential in her second half cameo in last year’s Ulster Final.
Armagh will go into this one as favourites, and rightly so as they aim to top the group and head back up to division one.
They enjoyed an unforgettable 2020 but the challenge now is to not only repeat their heroics but try and better them.
Ronan Murphy possesses some of the finest lady footballers in the country, and he will hope his side can produce their best to see off Tyrone.