Orchard crash out of All-Ireland race

Meath 3-15 Armagh 1-14

1-6 from Armagh’s attacking ace Aimee Mackin wasn’t enough to drag her side into the last four of the All-Ireland series.

The reigning Ulster Champions conceded two first half goals and the mountain proved too steep to climb after the turnaround.

Niamh Marley started at centre field, in the expected absence of the injured Caroline O’Hanlon.

Orlagh Lally put the Royals ahead after Vikki Wall and Kelly Mallon (free) exchanged scores early on.

Photo Credit: Brendan Monaghan

Meath breached the Armagh goal for the first time. Wall played through Emma Duggan, scorer of 1-5, who smash home a three-pointer.

Armagh faced a green and yellow wall every time they marched forward, with Meath sucking them in and breaking at pace.

Duggan (free) and Bridgetta Lynch efforts saw the underdogs take a 1-4 to 0-1 lead at the water break.

The Meath domination continued after the restart. Aoibhin Cleary raised a white flag before Niamh O’Sullivan found the net from the resulting kick out.

Mackin walloped over a wonder point, Armagh’s first score in almost 20 minutes, to close the gap to nine.

Armagh followed it up with a doubled as they pushed hard on the Meath restarts. Alex Clarke opened her account while Mackin slotted over her second.

Photo Credit: Brendan Monaghan

A Kelly Mallon brace (both frees) matched points from Lally and Stacey Grimes (free) to leave the score 2-7 to 0-6 at half time.

The sides exchanged scores after the turnaround. Eve Lavery and Mackin (two) matching efforts from Duggan, Lally and Niamh O’Sullivan.

The Mackin sisters Aimee and Blaithin tried to narrow the gap, but Meath matched the Orchard County point for point.

Niamh Reel and Aimee Mackin also swapped scores with the 2020 Intermediate champions. Meath then struck their third major through Emma Troy to make the margin ten.

Mackin forced a superb goal, following a point from Grace Ferguson, but it wasn’t enough to get their team back in contention.

That’s the end of the All-Ireland run for Armagh while Meath progress to the last four to take on Cork.

Their year isn’t over, however. Ronan Murphy’s team contest the Ulster final once the All-Ireland series is complete.

The provincial showpiece provides Armagh with the chance of a happy ending. Just as it did after their Dublin defeat in 2020.

While it’s of no comfort or consolation for the Orchard County, Armagh still have a lot to play for before the season is out.

Armagh: Anna Carr, Sarah Marley, Clodagh McCambridge, Grace Ferguson 0-1, Eve Lavery 0-1, Lauren McConville, Tiarna Grimes, Kelly Mallon 0-3 (3f), Niamh Coleman, Blaithin Mackin 0-1, Niamh Marley, Fionnuala McKenna, Aimee Mackin 1-6 (1f), Aoife McCoy, Alex Clarke 0-1. Subs: Catherine Marley, N. Coleman, Niamh Reel 0-1 for S. Marley, Megan Sheridan for E. Lavery, Emily Druse for F. McKenna.