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Armagh eager to get back on the rails after final flop

By John Campbell

Armagh have never been noted for their generosity in ladies' Senior Championship football, so when they conceded an astonishing 9-21 to Donegal in last month's Ulster final, serious doubts were cast on the team's ability to make an impact in the All-Ireland series which begins today.

Those questions should be answered today when they face Monaghan at Clones (12.30pm) in what is a crucial Group 2 round one match for both teams.

Defeat for either side would see them face an uphill battle to reach the quarter-finals, so Armagh will lean even more heavily on their experienced corps of Caroline O'Hanlon, Aimee Mackin, Kelly Mallon, Aoife McCoy and Lauren McConville to see them return to winning ways.

Monaghan generally thrive in a championship atmosphere and Sharon Courtney, Muireann Atkinson, Ciara McAnespie and Ellen McCarron are among the players who can set the tone.

Immediately after this game, Cavan will meet a Mayo side from which several players defected during the week but which still has strength in depth, although the Breffni outfit can look to Aishling Maguire, Aishling Sheridan and Bronagh Sheridan for inspiration.

In the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship, Tyrone will face Wicklow as part of the Clones triple header (3.45pm) and the Red Hands will require all the experience and guile of players such as Gemma Begley and Maria Canavan if they are to come out on top.

Fermanagh will face Meath in the Intermediate Championship with the shooting skills of Eimear Smyth likely to get them across the line.

In the All-Ireland Junior Championship, Antrim will face Louth at Kilkerley, Dundalk today (1.00pm) where they will hope to make up for their Ulster final loss to Derry.

In Group B round one Derry travel to meet Carlow. Having won the Ulster crown and beaten Carlow last season in the All-Ireland series, the Oak Leaf girls are hopeful of coming out on top again.

The Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship sees Down face Cork at Pairc Esler, Newry today (5.00pm) in Group One, while Derry will make the long haul to Rathdowney to face Laois.

Down face a tough test against the Rebel county while Derry are still without the services of the injured Karen Kielt.

Meanwhile, Derry hurlers will be subjected to a searching examination by Mayo when the sides meet in the quarter-final of the All-Ireland Under-21 B Hurling Championship (Richie McElligot Cup) at Carrick-on-Shannon tomorrow (1.00pm).

The Oak Leaf side includes several players who have come through strongly at minor level, but they will confront a Mayo side which has made steady progress of late.

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