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Daly's delight at the progress of the ladies

By Declan Bogue

It was hardly a surprise that Armagh Ladies beat Laois on Saturday to book their place in the All-Ireland semi-finals, but the margin of victory came as another confidence boost for the Ulster champions.

In scoring 5-17 to 0-9, Armagh's front six forwards all scored, as did the midfield pairing of Caroline O'Hanlon – fresh from her netball exploits at the Commonwealth Games and registering 2-6 here – and Niamh Henderson.

"I think that we had our homework well done on Laois," was Armagh manager James Daly's assessment.

"We knew our strengths going into the game. We knew a fast start in those games is very important, we had a goal on the stroke of the first minute and I think we rattled Laois.

"The game was pretty much in the balance until about 10 minutes before half time and we scored a couple of goals, and I think the game was pretty much over by half-time."

As ever, Cork remain hot favourites for the All-Ireland, with eight of the last nine titles won by the Rebelletes, but there was something in the way that they kept them to a point in their Round Two qualifier last year that has provided Armagh with a tantalising glimpse of what can be achieved.

"We knew coming through to this year that we needed to bolster our bench and bring more players into the starting line-up that could give us more scores," said Dromintee clubman Daly.

"We did that by introducing Lauren McConville and Aoife McCoy and even giving the likes of Sinead McCleery a different role where she could have more freedom of the field.

"We are happy with that, then we have the ever-present Caroline O'Hanlon, Nuala McKenna, Kelly Mallon and Mags McAlinden."

At the back, the most significant move has proved a real success and triumph of experimentation.

In the game against Cork, Daly switched Mairead Tennyson to corner-back, where she has remained all season. And as Daly says now: "I would like somebody to produce to me a better corner-back in Ireland right now."

After they got the better of Laois, Armagh did not hang about to see Cork get through a tough test against Mayo, with Cora Staunton in their attack.

"We all went home and done our own thing," he said.

"We went home and watched our own game first and had a wee look at that, to see things that we did wrong that we can get right the next day. Equally, we looked at Cork and Mayo, but you don't get too far into it as you don't know who you would be playing."

This coming weekend, the other quarter-finals between Monaghan and Galway, and Kerry and Dublin are staged.

Then there will be an open draw for the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Belfast Telegraph


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