Armagh 5-11 Carlow 3-11
Armagh withstood a second half comeback from Carlow to make their way to the league final in a ‘game of two halves’ on Saturday afternoon.
It was all plain sailing in the first half, with Armagh flying ahead with 2-6 inside the opening ten minutes of the match.
Carlow grabbed two goals of their own at the beginning of the second period with the assistance of a strong wind, but Armagh were too far ahead to be caught.
An opportunist three-pointer from substitute Rachael Merry helped ease fears of a revival and allowed Armagh to push on for victory.
Merry was involved in her sides second goal after the turnaround when her crossfield ball was flicked home by Ciara Donnelly.
Ciarrai Devlin was also fantastic throughout and pulled off some brilliant saves to keep the Carlow score down.
Points from Laura Smyth, Ciara Donnelly, Colette McSorley and Leanne Donnelly helped Armagh go into an early 4-1 lead.
Sinead Kiernan’s long-range effort dropped into the Carlow goal while the Madden star also raised a white flag straight after.
Ciara Donnelly hit the target again before Tullysaran’s Colette McSorley fired home Armagh’s second goal of the day.
The Donnelly sisters traded scores before the older of the two, Ciara, slotted another past the Carlow netminder.
Laura Smyth ended the half as she started it with a fantastic point to see Armagh ahead 3-9 to 0-2 at the half time break.
Carlow returned in determined fashion and with a stiff breeze at their backs, began to claw back the 16-point margin.
They came flying out of the traps and struck two quickfire goals to get right back into contention and close the gap to ten by the second water break.
Merry saw her mishit pass trickle into the net by that stage before setting up Donnelly’s second goal of the game.
The Armagh captain and McSorley tagged on further scores, while Carlow continued to search for goal.
They did get one near full time, but the Armagh defence held strong to keep out a lot of the Carlow attacks.
It’s the final now for Mattie Lennon and his team and they will face familiar opposition in the showpiece.
Wexford were much too strong for Limerick in the other semi-final and triumphed by 13 points in the end, 3-12 to 1-5.
Armagh and Wexford played out a thrilling contest two weeks ago in the final group game so another cracker should be in store in the final.
Armagh Scorers: Ciara Donnelly 2-4, Colette McSorley 1-2, Sinead Kiernan 1-1, Rachael Merry 1-0, Laura Smyth 0-2, Leanne Donnelly 0-2