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Armagh ladies left to fly flag for Ulster

By John Campbell

Armagh are now the only Ulster team left in the last four of the All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship in which they will meet Dublin.

In overcoming Donegal in a tense quarter-final, 2-13 to 2-11, at the weekend, James Daly's side showed they have the bit between the teeth, their appetite for success clearly whetted by their consistency during the qualifiers.

But there was disappointment for Monaghan in their semi-final when they were outgunned by a slick Dublin side (1-13 to 0-13) which is under the capable baton of Derry man Gregory McGonagle.

It was not until the final quarter that Armagh stamped their imprint on their contest, Yvonne McGonagle's brace of well-taken goals having sustained the north-west county up until then.

A goal from Aoife Lennon consolidated Armagh's confidence and when skipper Caroline O'Hanlon fired in their second goal they began to carry a much bigger threat up front.

Geraldine McLaughlin's 46th minute point was to prove Donegal's last score as Armagh's fitness and stamina stood them in good stead over the final furlong with points from Fionnuala McKenna, Aimee Mackin and the inspirational O'Hanlon helping to secure their place in the semi-finals.

Armagh, though, will have to improve if they hope to reach the final - a fact acknowledged by manager Daly.

"We knew we had to step up on our performance for this Donegal game from that which we offered against Westmeath, but we will have to go up another notch for the semi-finals," he said.

Meanwhile, Monaghan, having trailed by 1-7 to 0-4 at half-time against Dublin, played with commendable spirit in the second-half.

With Caitriona McConnell and Cora Courtney showing the way, the Farney county got to within two points of their opponents in the third quarter.

But points from Connolly, Davey, McEvoy and Noonan were to prove crucial for Dublin.

And in a nail-biting finish, the Dubs worked the ball to the superb Lyndsey Davey whose inch-perfect pass allowed substitute Niamh Collins to land the match-winning score.

It was a close call for McGonagle's side, though, who can expect an even bigger test from Armagh..

There was disappointment for Ulster champions Fermanagh in the All-Ireland Ladies intermediate championship when they lost to a fired-up Offaly side by 0-13 to 1-7.

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