Sunday 22 April 2018

Magical Mackin seals Orchard's progress

Armagh’s Blaithin Mackin holds off a challenge from Karen McDermott of Westmeath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Armagh’s Blaithin Mackin holds off a challenge from Karen McDermott of Westmeath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Armagh will face Munster champions Kerry in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC quarter-finals after surviving a massive scare from Leinster runners-up Westmeath. Armagh held on for a two-point victory, 3-16 to 4-11, in a tense and high-scoring encounter at home of the Lannleire club in Louth.

The Orchard County got off to a cracking start when Caroline O'Hanlon netted a penalty, before the brilliant Aimee Mackin raised a green flag to open up a 2-3 to 0-3 lead.

Westmeath captain Laura Lee Walsh responded with a goal, and when Ciara Blundell scored their second, it was very much game on. At half-time, Armagh led by 2-9 to 2-7 and there was more drama to come in the second period. O'Hanlon scored a quite stunning goal to hand Armagh an early boost, fielding on the 45-yard line before launching the ball into the net from distance.

But Westmeath wouldn't lie down and they hit back with a goal of their own - Kelly Boyce Jordan on target.

Midway through the second half, Armagh led by 3-12 to 3-8 and they suffered a real blow when Marian McGuinness was sin-binned, while Aine Mackin had a goal ruled out. A superb Aimee Mackin score did steady Armagh but Westmeath were back in it when Leona Archibold netted a penalty.

In stoppage time, Armagh were just two points clear, and playing with 14, but star forward Mackin moved the winners into a three-point advantage.

There was still time for Maud Annie Foley to bring Westmeath to within two points - but Armagh held out for a spot in the last eight of the championship.

Elsewhere, Aileen Wall's dramatic late goal stunned Cavan and sent Waterford through to a dream TG4 All-Ireland ladies SFC quarter-final clash with Dublin.

Wall struck in the 63rd minute to book a place in the last eight against Mick Bohan's in-form Dublin.

Cavan's Aisling Doonan and Donna English carried the fight to Waterford in the second half - and the Ulster side looked like holding out after coming from three points down to lead late on.

Ahead by a point, 1-13 to 0-15, Doonan had a chance to stretch Cavan's lead but Caoimhe McGrath plucked her free from underneath her own bar to keep Waterford alive.

And they would get their chance, as Wall somehow managed to squeeze her shot home after Lauren McGregor had done well to create the chance.

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