By DAIRE WALSH
Armagh manager Shane McCormack said beating Laois in the Lidl NFL Division 2 Final was the culmination of 12 months of hard work.
Last April, Armagh fell to a heartbreaking 1-12 to 0-12 defeat to Kerry and missed out on the chance to secure promotion to the top tier but they put that right on Saturday at Croke Park.
It was another performance that oozed class with Aimee Mackin top-scoring as she shot 3-3 for the victors. And in his first year as manager, after being part of previous supremo Ronan Murphy’s backroom team, McCormack was thrilled to land some early season silverware.
“Last year when we lost to Kerry (in the Division 2 final), the girls said: ‘look, we want to be back here. This is where we want to be,” said McCormack. “We’ve worked extremely hard, we’ve upped the ante with training. We’ve collective training four times a week. We’ve been preparing for this, this was our first goal.
“There’s a lot of work done behind the scenes but the girls have really, really put the shoulder to the wheel and they’re after getting their just desserts. Delighted.”
Armagh had already beaten Laois 0-10 to 0-5 earlier in the league, as they triumphed in all seven of their group fixtures, and they had the momentum coming in this game too.
Their started reflected that confidence and they raced into a 4-3 to 1-5 half-time lead. Armagh had scored three goals in as many minutes early on, with Aoife McCoy adding to Aimee Mackin’s double.
And although Mo Nerney slotted a penalty before half-time the damage was already done. Buoyed by memories of their stunning TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate success at Croke Park last July, Laois battled hard but they had left themselves with too much to do.
The O’Moore County had to settle for another year in Division 2 as they turned their attentions to a gruelling provincial campaign.
“I know we lost but we’re immensely proud of the performance. If you took the first five minutes out of it, it might sound silly, but we were right in the game,” said Laois manager Donie Brennan.
“I know we lost, but it’s preparation for the championship. We’re happy where we are and it’s all guns now for the Leinster championship.
“It’ll be another step up from Armagh to Meath and Dublin in the Leinster championship because there is that much more bite and intensity in a championship game and we’re looking forward to it.
“We have a few weeks now to prepare for that and hopefully we put ourselves in the best position to compete against Dublin and Meath.”Tweet