All photos credit: Jimmy Duff
ROYALS SHOCK THE ORCHARD COUNTY
LIDL NFL – Division 2 – Round 5
Meath v Armagh
Gaelic Grounds – Armagh
Sunday March 8th 2020
Half time: Meath 1-12 – Armagh 3-03
Full time: Meath 1-21 – Armagh 3-05
Meath Ladies were on the road again today, heading north this time to the Orchard County to face rivals Armagh. Both teams entered todays game with only a point between them in the Lidl NFL table, but by the final whistle, it was the Meath Ladies that took all 3 points on offer, and now sit 2nd, behind the League leaders Kerry.
The game started with 2 changes to the Meath line up, Kelsey Nesbitt came in for Emma White, and Aoibheann Leahy replaced Bridgetta Lynch, but it was The Orchard County Ladies that had the better start, with a goal from Eve Lavery and a point from the ever dangerous Kelly Mallon in the first 2 minutes. The Royal Ladies settled into their stride, and knocked over the next 6 scores, coming from the boot of Aoibhin Cleary (2) , Stacey Grimes (2 frees & 1 from play), and a goal from Emma Duggan, after great link movement from Kelsey Nesbitt and Vikki Wall.
Armagh didn’t panic, and hit back with a two well worked goals from Chloe Magill and Kelly Mallon, as the game opened up, but again, the Royals just stuck to their game plan, and worked the ball well from defence to the danger area, through quick hands and off the shoulder support running, which reaped the dividends with further points from Orla Byrne, Aoibhin Cleary and Emma Duggan (2 points each) and a free from sharpshooter Stacey Grimes.
Meath finished the first half the stronger, and headed into the changing rooms feeling the more confident, leading the Orchard County on their own pitch, 1-12 to 3-03. Overall the Meath management would have been happy with the first 30 minutes of football, with the pace and accuracy of transition from the backs to the forwards working well, and the overall link in the forward line proving dangerous with 13 scores to Armaghs 6, but there was still 30 minutes of football to go.
Meath began the second half, as they finished the first, with an intensity in the transition play, knocking over 4 points in quick succession, from Aoibhin Cleary, Vikki Wall, Shauna Ennis and Stacey Grimes, before Armagh pulled 1 back from a free through Caroline O’Hanlon. Meath kept the pressure up and supporting each other with smart options, and defensively, the back 6 galvanised with the midfield and half forward line, stood strong and thwarted everything that was thrown at them. Caroline O’Hanlon added another point from a free to the Armagh tally after 12 minutes but this was to be their final score of the game, which highlighted the dominance and player commitment to the Meath defensive structure.
The game finished out with Meath adding 5 more points to their overall tally, coming from the boots of Orla Byrne ( 2 points) Stacey Grimes (2 frees) and Kelly Harris, but it was the overall team performance that shone through on the day.
It was a performance that the girls and management should be proud of, and with 2 games left in the league; a top of the table clash with the Kerry Ladies who are heading to Pairc Tailteann on Sunday March 22nd , and a final away trip to Wexford, the team and management will be relishing and I’m sure are “up for” the opportunity to finish this campaign off on a strong note, and who knows, maybe even our 3rd National League final appearance in 3 seasons.
Scorers: Stacey Grimes 0-07 (5 frees), Emma Duggan 1-03, Aoibhin Cleary 0-05, Orla Byrne 0-03, Shauna Ennis, Vikki Wall & Kelly Harris 0-01 each.
Team: Monica McGuirk, Katie Newe, Mary Kate Lynch, Sarah wall, Emma Troy, Shauna Ennis, Megan Thynne, Maire O’Shaughnessy, Aoibhinn Cleary, Emma Duggan, Stacey Grimes, Vikki Wall, Orla Byrne, Aoibheann Leahy, Kelsey Nesbitt Subs used: Niamh O’Sullivan, Emma White, Kate Byrne, Kelly Harris. Annie Moffatt.