Ladies: Mackin and Mallon shoot Armagh to first ever Division 1 crown

April 07, 2024

Kerry's Mary O'Connell tackles Cait Towe of Armagh ©INPHO/Leah Scholes

Armagh 2-12 
Kerry 2-9  

by Daire Walsh 

Aimee Mackin and Kelly Mallon combined for 1-9 at Croke Park on Sunday as Armagh got the better of defending champions Kerry to claim the Lidl National Football League Division 1 title for the very first time. 

Having lost out by three points to the Kingdom in a NFL Division 2 decider at the same venue two years ago, this is a sweet victory for an Armagh side that were also appearing in their maiden top tier league showpiece. 

A fine point by Aoife McCoy edged Armagh in front for a second time after free-takers Mallon and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh had exchanged early frees, but the Kingdom received a massive boost when Lorraine Scanlon fired to the net on 10 minutes after a dead-ball strike from Ní Mhuircheartaigh had dropped short. This was only a minor set-back for Armagh, however, as midfielder Niamh Coleman palmed a goal of her own after Kerry netminder Mary Ellen Bolger had knocked down Mackin’s attempt at a point. 

An earlier Mallon score meant Armagh led 1-3 to 1-1 on the first-quarter mark and this cushion was extended when Mallon superbly split the uprights from an acute left-hand angle. 

Yet Kerry never allowed panic to creep into their play and three points on the bounce from Ní Mhuircheartaigh had the sides level at 1-4 apiece during the break. 

After Mary O’Connell pounced on a defensive mishap by Armagh three minutes into the second half, Niamh Ní Chonchuir comfortably fired home a second Kingdom goal. 

While this looked like being a major blow for the Orchard County, but they were instead galvanised in the minutes that followed Ní Chonchuir’s major. After unanswered points from Mallon, Mackin (two) and Niamh Henderson moved Armagh in front once again, the increasingly-dangerous Mackin rifled an unstoppable shot to the roof of the Kerry net on 39 minutes. 

Further points from the Shane O’Neills ace either side of the third-quarter mark suddenly left Armagh six ahead, but much-needed contributions from Ní Mhuircheartaigh (two) and Hannah O'Donoghue offered fresh life to the Kingdom challenge. 

Their deficit remained at three points when centre half-back Ciara Murphy cancelled out a Mallon free with a well-worked score, but even though Ní Mhuircheartaigh added her seventh point for a battling Kerry, substitute Corrina Doyle also found the range to ensure Armagh sealed a breakthrough success. 

Scorers - Armagh: A Mackin 1-4 (0-2f), K Mallon 0-5 (3f), N Coleman 1-0, A McCoy, N Henderson, C Doyle 0-1 each. Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-7 (6f), N Ní Chonchuir, L Scanlon 1-0 each, C Murphy, H O’Donoghue 0-1 each. 

ARMAGH: A Carr; G Ferguson, C McCambridge, R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Druse, A McCoy, L Kenny; A Mackin, N Henderson, K Mallon. Subs: S Quigley for N Coleman (24), C Doyle for Druse (49), M McCambridge for Kenny (57), S Grey for McCoy (58), E Lavery for Mallon (59). 

KERRY: ME Bolger; C Lynch, D Kearney, E Lynch; A O’Connell, C Murphy, K Cronin; M O’Connell, A Galvin; N Carmody, N Ní Chonchuir, L Scanlon; H O’Donoghue, E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh. Subs: D O’Leary for NíChonchuir, C O’Brien for Kearney (both 39), A Harrington for Scanlon (44), K Brosnan for O’Donoghue (57). 

Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo). 

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