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O'Kane left fuming as Armagh exit the big stage

Armagh 2-11 Kerry 3-14

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Sean O'Kane was left fuming following his team's All-Ireland ladies football championship quarter-final defeat to Kerry at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny.

The Orchard County boss was less than impressed with the performance of referee Jonathan Murphy in a match in which his side were impressive in the first half before losing their way after the break.

"I wasn't happy with the refereeing but at the same time the referee didn't beat us. Still, if anybody wants to see the stats, then they can and they will see that the frees awarded were three to one against us."

But O'Kane confirms he wants to remain on in charge for a second season, adding: "We will have another go at it. It's long hours but at the end of the day it's football, and it's an addiction."

A 16-year-old Republic of Ireland soccer international player was to break Armagh's hearts.

The prodigiously talented Hannah O'Donoghue teased the Orchard County defence throughout as she landed 1-4 from play and had a hand in several other scores in her team's hard-earned victory.

While O'Donoghue caught the eye for Kerry, Aimee Mackin was superb for Armagh, particularly in the first half when she rattled home two excellent goals.

The Shane O'Neill's player went into battle nursing a hand injury but still finished with 2-4, including 2-3 in the opening half.

She could have had a hat-trick of goals but Kerry goalkeeper Laura Fitzgerald denied her approaching half-time with a magnificent tip-over save.

Kerry were much the better side after the break - and Armagh suffered a massive blow with 11 minutes left when Niamh Marley was sin-binned.

The orchard county managed just two points in the second half as they were forced to repel wave after wave of Kerry attacks.

Despite the heroic efforts of Caroline O'Hanlon at midfield and the work-rate of Lauren McConville and Aoife McCoy, the Orchard County were forced to play second fiddle as Kerry played smart possession football in the course of closing the game out.

There was simply no way back for Armagh as O'Donoghue helped to cement her team's victory before liming off.

Fermanagh, meanwhile, had nothing more than a canter in the park when they overwhelmed Antrim by 8-25 to 0-5 in the All-Ireland Ladies Junior championship to book a semi-final meeting with London.

The talented Eimear Smyth helped herself to four goals while Aisling Woods and Sharon Murphy were other goalscorers with Lisa Maguire and Blaithin Bogue also sharing in the points bonanza.

Kerry: L Fitzgerald; E Lynch, A Desmond, A Leonard; C Kelly, C Murphy, S Murphy; L Scanlon 0-2, E Sherwood; L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-3 (1f), A Galvin 1-0, D Hallissey; S Houlihan 0-4 (2f), H O'Donoghue 1-4, L Rogers. Subs: A O'Connell for S Murphy (37), F Tangney for Rogers (45), E O'Leary (0-1) for Galvin (52), J Lucey for O'Donoghue (55).

Armagh: K Mallon; S Marley, C McCambridge, M Sheridan; M McGuinness, M Tennyson, S Reel; N Coleman, C O'Hanlon; A Mackin 2-4, A McCoy 0-3, N Marley; L McConville 0-1), B Mackin, F McKenna 0-3 (2f). Subs: T Grimes for Sheridan (36), N Reel for McGuinness (55), A Donaldson for B Mackin (55).

Referee: Johnathan Murphy (Carlow).

Belfast Telegraph

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