Ladies look to pick the Orchard in semi-final quest

Ladies Football: All Ireland Senior Football Championship

Passing range: Mayo's Sarah Rowe in action against Galway. Photo: Sportsfile

Passing range: Mayo's Sarah Rowe in action against Galway. Photo: Sportsfile

Following on from their impressive win over Ulster champions Donegal in their final round robin game of the All Ireland Senior Football Championship, the Mayo Ladies will go into tomorrow's All Ireland quarter-final as favourites to book a place in the All Ireland semi-final.

Peter Leahy's side will take on an Armagh side who were well beaten by Donegal in the Ulster final on a scoreline of 5-12 to 1-9, before going down to Cavan in their first round robin game - however they pulled off the result of the championship beating Cork in their final group game 4-9 to 3-11 to book their place in the last eight against Mayo.

In the league this season, Armagh topped division two with six wins from seven games, but when it came to the knock-out stages of the competition, they were beaten by Kerry in the semi-final on a score of 2-15 to 1-11 and missed out on promotion to the top flight for next season.

In their win over Cork two weeks ago, Caroline O’Hanlon scored 1-3 while Blaithin Mackin bagged 1-2 with their other goals coming from Kelly Mallon and Mairead Watters in that win.

Mayo will head into this game without the services of Dayna Finn, with the Kiltimagh woman on international duty with the Irish basketball team in FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship in Kosovo.

Speaking at the launch of AIB's 'Battle Mode' Feature to The Toughest Journey video game last week, Mayo sharpshooter Sarah Rowe said about Mayo's drive to win the All Ireland title: "Look, it’s down to whoever wants to work the hardest. It’s one game at a time and we’re a team that has been rebuilding and bringing through players. It’s one session at a time for us, one game at a time with a strong Armagh team coming up, but it’s down to whoever wants it most."

As for the other sides still in the competition, she knows that none of them will be easy sides to get a result against if they get over Armagh tomorrow, adding: "Cork are contenders and they’ll be coming in with a chip on their shoulder. They were ruthless in the league, and of course you have Dublin too who are so strong. Galway beat us and they have to be respected.”

It took the Kilmoremoy player a while to adjust after a winter in Austrailia playing Aussie Rules with Collingwood to get back to her best on the football field. She said: " Physically, I was fit and could run all day, but the training in the AFLW is about endurance and lifting heavy weights.

“Here, it’s about being sharp and doing light, explosive weights and I felt off the pace for playing in the full-forward line for a while. It took me maybe six or eight weeks to get back to myself and to get back into my old habits — because my head was still thinking Aussie Rules for a while. You get into that mindset and it’s a challenge coming back.”

In their win over Donegal Rowe was to the fore on the scoring front of as part of an impressive full forward line that scored 1-20 between them, with Rowe scoring nine points, Grace Kelly hitting 0-8 and Rachel Kearns finishing up the day with 1-3.

The prize up for grabs tomorrow for Mayo is a trip back to Croke Park for the All Ireland semi-final on Sunday, August 25, against the winners of the meeting of Galway and Waterford, as part of a double bill that will see the two favourites for the title, Cork and Dublin, meet in the other semi-final on the same day. A potential meeting against Galway will whet the lips of the Mayo team - given that the tribeswomen beat them in the Connacht final after a replay in Limerick - on the same day the two counties senior men met in the All Ireland qualifiers.

The game throws in at 1pm in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, August 10.

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