Mayo look to pick the Orchard

Ladies Football: All Ireland Senior Football Championship

Holding her nerve: Shauna Howley kicked the vital free to win the game for Mayo last weekend against Monaghan. Photo: Sportsfile.

Holding her nerve: Shauna Howley kicked the vital free to win the game for Mayo last weekend against Monaghan. Photo: Sportsfile.

Both Mayo and Armagh have already booked their places in the last eight of the competitions, following both sides' wins in round two last weekend.

Mayo needed free kicks to see off Monaghan last Saturday in Ballinamore in Leitrim after the game ended up level at 0-12 each, while Armagh had an eight point win over Cavan in Clones in Monaghan.

While progress to the knock-out stages of the competition is secured for both sides, the prize of topping their group and going into the last eight of the competition on the back of a win, will be a big carrot for the two teams.

Mayo manager Michael Moyles knows his side will have to up their game significantly from last Saturday against the side who knocked Mayo out of the championship last year.

Speaking after their dramatic win over Monaghan, where Shauna Howley proved to be the hero after she was the only player to convert a free from 30 meters, out of nine taken, Moyles said: "We made a lot of bad decisions on the ball at times. But that’s credit to Monaghan as well. We are delighted with the win, but we wouldn’t be happy with our performance."

Mayo opened brightly with Howley, Rachel Kearns and late inclusion Sarah Rowe putting over a point each by the ninth minute. Monaghan responded well to Mayo's bright start with Ellen McCarron tapping over two frees on the spin over the next three minutes.

Kearns and McCarron exchanged points at opposite ends by the quarter of an hour mark, edging Mayo in front by the bare minimum at the first water break. When the action resumed, Monaghan got back on level terms once again thanks to McCarron’s class from placed balls.

But Mayo edged back into a two-point advantage thanks to Grace Kelly’s brace of scores. However, Monaghan finished the opening half stronger and McCarron kicked a free and added a point from play to leave it level at 0-6 each at half-time.

In the heat of the the second half, action continued along the same path as the first, with Howley and McCarron kicking early frees for their respective sides, before Monaghan took the lead for the first and only time in the game when McCarron put over a 41st-minute free. Kearns hit back for Mayo, before Kelly reclaimed the lead for Michael Moyles’ side, only for corner back Aoife McAnespie to send the game to extra time with the scores tied at 0-10 to 0-10.

Ten minutes each way was not enough to split the teams in extra time, with a couple of frees from Howley and McCarron the only scores, which saw the game decided with a free-taking competition. And in the end, Howley held her nerve to land the decisive kick, which should be enough for Mayo to work their way into the knock-out stages.

Mayo know they will be in for a tough test when they face Armagh tomorrow afternoon, with the Orchard county disposing of Cavan by eight points last weekend, with their star attacker Aimee Mackin bagging ten points for her side, while Caroline O’Hanlon, Aoife McCoy and Kelly Mallon bagged their goals. Armagh had to work hard for the win, leading by two points at the break and then being hauled level on the scoreboard early in the second half. But they were able to recompose themselves and drive on to victory.


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