Armagh retain Ulster title

Armagh 3-12 Donegal 3-11

Armagh retained their Ulster crown after a pulsating 60-minute battle with Donegal, who’s last provincial defeat came in 2016.

The Tir Conaill ladies didn’t take part in the 2020 competition but made sure to leave their mark on this seasons showpiece.

The game had everything. Goals, blocks, big hits and a nail-biting finish that kept all in attendance on the edge of their seats.

Second half substitute Fionnuala McKenna was the hero, with her 54th minute point proving to be the winner.

It was a hectic ending to a hugely enjoyable encounter. The Orchard County’s defence worked ferociously hard to deny Donegal a late leveller and succeeded in doing so.

Ronan Murphy’s side led from the 11th to the 52nd minute. A late Geraldine McLaughlin goal tied the game and threatened to ruin the party with the hooter approaching.

Armagh were the better side in the opening period, despite conceding two first half goals.

Niamh Reel raised the first green flag of the day after a brilliant defensive interception by Niamh Marley.

Caroline O’Hanlon played through the Silverbridge forward and Reel fired the ball over the advancing keeper into the top corner.

Donegal’s star player Geraldine McLaughlin, who picked up the Player of the Match award, was proving a handful at the other end of the field.

Clodagh McCambridge had some bright moments on the corner forward but couldn’t contain McLaughlin for the entire game.

The Mackin sisters turned on the style for Armagh’s second goal. Aimee finished the move following a superb, defence-splitting run by Blaithin.

Catherine Marley had a big say in the third goal, as she captured the kick out after scoring her first point of the game.

The Lissummon star passed to Aimee Mackin who rolled the ball into the net after a quick one-two with Kelly Mallon.

Donegal’s second three-pointer came just before the half time whistle, leaving Armagh ahead 3-7 to 2-5 at the break.

Four points on the trot from Geraldine McLaughlin left it a one-point game as Donegal piled on the pressure early in the second period.

Just as Armagh seemed stuck, Blaithin Mackin bounced forward to strike a brace and take back the led.

Tiarna Grimes and Kelly Mallon furthered Armagh’s advantage, but McLaughlin’s late goal made it all square with only minutes remaining.

Fionnuala McKenna steadied the ship with her only score and Armagh held on to win by the minimum of margins.

Following a disappointing end to their All-Ireland campaign, Ronan Murphy will be delighted to end the year on a high.

Armagh Team: Anna Carr, Grace Ferguson, Clodagh McCambridge, Niamh Marley, Tiarna Grimes 0-1, Lauren McConville, Blaithin Mackin 0-2, Niamh Coleman, Caroline O’Hanlon, Eve Lavery, Aoife McCoy, Catherine Marley 0-1, Aimee Mackin 2-4 (2f), Kelly Mallon 0-3 (3f), Niamh Reel 1-0. Subs Used: Alex Clarke, Megan Sheridan, Sarah Marley, Fionnuala McKenna 0-1, Mairead Tennyson.