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Daly quits Armagh as title bid ends in defeat

Dublin 2-16 Armagh 2-5

By John Campbell

Armagh reached the end of the All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship road with this semi-final setback against Dublin and the players' disappointment has now been compounded following the resignation of manager James Daly.

The charismatic Daly has been in charge for the past four years during which he has plotted two successful league promotion campaigns, an Ulster Intermediate title (2012) and a provincial senior crown (2014).

But he now feels the time is right to entrust the Orchard County reins to different hands.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my spell in charge but the players might now benefit from responding to a fresh voice," says Daly.

"Sport is all about progression and I honestly believe that at full-strength Armagh can meet the challenge of any other county. Obviously it was disappointing to lose to Dublin but the girls gave it everything and I am very proud of them."

And he makes no bones about what he feels was a major factor in his team's downfall at Parnell Park, Dublin.

"To be quite candid, you would have to say that our injuries caught up with us," reflects Daly.

"We were missing players like Aoife McCoy, Caoimhe Marley, Sinead McCoy and Niamh Henderson among others and that's a big burden to carry.

"Having said that, the players who were pitched into the side could not have given more effort."

In contrast, Dublin manager Gregory McGonagle, a Derry native who has made a significant impact in a managerial context in ladies football having already managed Monaghan, surveys the sporting landscape from a rather different perspective today.

His team will now go in against Cork in the All-Ireland final cushioned not only by their semi-final win over Armagh but by a rampant desire to sit on the All-Ireland throne.

Their intensity, fluency and accuracy were shown to such an extent in the first-half on Saturday that they led by 1-9 to 1-1 at the break after their captain Lyndsey Davey had cancelled out Caroline O'Hanlon's opportunist goal for Armagh and then proceeded to consolidate their advantage after the break.

The Orchard County defence simply could not contain the pace and power of the Dublin attack and with Noelle Healy and Carla Rowe each scoring four points and Amy Connolly and Hannah Noonan providing admirable back-up, McGonagle's girls ran the show. Even when impressive teenager Aimee Mackin pilfered a second goal for Armagh late in the game, Dublin responded immediately when Sarah McCaffrey, sister of Dublin men's team star Johnny McCaffrey, swept home a superb goal to cement her team's dominance.

"Dublin are a top-class team and they will give the All-Ireland title a real rattle. They have more resources than most other counties. I wish them all the best for the future," added Daly.

DUBLIN: C Trant; O Carey, M Ní Scanaill, H Noonan; S Furlong, S Finnegan, C Barrett; M Lamb, S Goldrick; N Healy, A Connolly, C Rowe; N McEvoy, L Davey, K Flood. Subs: S McCaffrey for Flood (41), N Collins for Barrett (47), O Leonard for McEvoy (51), L Collins for Lamb (55), N Owens for Noonan (59).

ARMAGH: K Daly; M Tennyson, M McGuinness, T McCoy; S Reel, S McCleary, N Marley; C Malone, C O'Hanlon; A Lennon, K Mallon, L McConville; S Marley, F McKenna, A Mackin. Subs: A McCoy for Malone (34), A Henderson for Lennon (36), S Grey for McGuinness (46), Catherine Marley for Mallon (51).

Referee: G Carmody (Mayo).

Belfast Telegraph


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