The Mayo LGFA team lost today for the first time in this year’s Senior football Championship. Back in Ballinamore, where they overcame Monaghan in that dramatic free-kick shootout last weekend, they came off second best against Armagh who emerged with a 3-14 to 0-12 win.
Like the hurling game earlier on today, I was only able to follow this one in spots. I got the score updates from the Leitrim venue and, from those, here’s my take on the game’s narrative.
While we drew first blood, from Rachel Kearns, the player who left the greatest mark on proceedings today was the prodigiously talented Armagh forward Aimee Macken. She announced her arrival early on too, with 1-3 to her name as early as the 15th minute. She would go on to contribute 3-7 of the Orchard County’s winning tally.
Grace Kelly notched our second point before the water break but, trailing by 1-4 to 0-2, we were already in bother in this game.
Points by Grace Kelly and Sarah Rowe cut the gap to three. When Armagh bagged the next point it was their first score in ten minutes.
We continued to trade points as half-time approached. Another Grace Kelly score from play and a free from Shauna Howley – our shootout hero from last weekend – kept the scoreboard moving for us but they responded in kind. Then a brace from Aimee Mackin (one a free) pushed the Ulster team five clear at the break.
Grace Kelly got the first score of the second half but then Aimee Mackin struck again with another major as Armagh began to pull clear. Two Shauna Howley points (one a free) brought some respite but Mackin then brought her tally to 3-5 when she converted a penalty.
Nine to the good now, Armagh were heading for victory. By the water break they were ten up and when Rachel Kearns was sin-binned early in the final quarter it was clear this wasn’t going to be our day.
We kept plugging away, though, as we continued to trade points with them down the closing straight. Our scorers in the final quarter were Shauna Howley (a free), Grace Kelly (her fifth of the day) and, soon after she returned to the fray, Rachel Kearns.
Both teams were already through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals before today – which, from our perspective, underlined just how important to us that shootout win over Monaghan last weekend was – so the prize on offer for the winners was a less taxing final eight knockout clash next weekend.
Armagh’s reward for today’s win is a quarter-final tie while ours is a date with Galway. That knockout tie will be played at some point over the coming Bank Holiday weekend.