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Armagh ladies' bid to create history cut short

By Declan Bogue

Published 18/04/2016

Tough to take: Ronan Clarke's Orchard side miss out
Tough to take: Ronan Clarke's Orchard side miss out

It was heartache for Armagh ladies in their bid to reach the National League semi-finals for the first time as defeat to Cork, along with a sequence of results going against them, sent them crashing out of the competition.

Their re-scheduled game against The Rebellettes was hosted as the first ever ladies match at the new National Stadium in Abbotstown, and Ronan Clarke's Orchard ladies were powerless to stop the experienced and decorated Cork side winning on a 2-16 to 4-7 scoreline.

Kerry have now overtaken Armagh by virtue of having a better scoring difference than the Orchard and Galway, who also finished on 12 points. Kerry will meet table toppers Mayo in their semi-final.

The other game will involve Cork and Dublin.

The process to decide the semi-finals drew some anger from Armagh supporters, with some venting their anger on Twitter.

Critics included 2002 All-Ireland winner Aidan O'Rourke, who criticised the governing body and urged it to merge with the Gaelic Athletic Association. He tweeted: "The shambles of @LadiesFootball handling of 1/2 final qualification puts microscope further on their baffling resistance to merging #allone".

The GAA has attempted to bring camogie and ladies' football under their umbrella in recent years, but these overtures have not been accepted.

Antrim's 2-11 to 0-13 win over Longford in the Division Four semi-final has granted them a showdown against Limerick, who edged out Wicklow on a 0-14 to 2-6 scoreline.

Monaghan Under-21s, managed by former Tyrone player Ciaran McBride, fell to Cork in Saturday's All-Ireland semi-final after a thriller in O'Connor Park, Tullamore ended 2-15 to 1-16.

Senior Cork star Peter Kelleher, along with Ryan Harkin, netted the Cork goals, the Oriel major coming from Barry McGinn who will make a claim for a senior spot under Malachy O'Rourke for this summer's Championship.

McBride reflected: "In hindsight, size made a big difference.

"We were out-sized in maybe seven or eight positions. When you're playing against a running team which also has size, that's very difficult to sustain. The lads challenged them well but Cork got a grip on the game and it was very hard to wrestle it off them.

"I'm very proud of the lads, it's gut wrenching to have to walk into another dressing room and congratulate another team but that's part of football. To come so close and now have to go back to the start again is not easy.

"For some, unfortunately, that's life. They go back to their clubs now but to play in a Monaghan jersey for some of them, the door is now closed."

In the All-Ireland Minor B Camogie Championship, Antrim defeated Derry 3-22 to 1-4. In the Minor C Camogie shield, Tyrone beat Wicklow 5-13 to 1-2 and Monaghan got the better of Donegal, 5-7 to 0-2.

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