Tracey Dillon of Westmeath is tackled by Armagh's Aoife McCoy in last Sunday's Ladies Natioonal Football League game, at the Box-IT Athletic Grounds, Armagh.

Rampant Armagh prove too strong for Westmeath girls

Armagh 3-15 Westmeath 1-6

Westmeath just didn’t have enough in the tank to overcome Division Two’s strongest side, as they fell to a 15-point defeat away to Armagh at the Box-It Athletic Grounds on Sunday.

After an even start, Armagh went on a 2-4 to 0-1 run at the end of the first half, starting with a fortuitous Lauren McConville goal on the 20 minute mark, which put the home side in the ascendancy, and Westmeath could never wrestle back momentum, despite a Sarah Dillon goal early in the first half.

wIt may have been a disappointing result, but with Monaghan and Roscommon drawing 0-13 apiece in their fixture, Westmeath have secured their status in Division Two for another season, whilst Armagh confirmed their spot in the league final.

Westmeath had an early goal chance when Sarah Dillon fisted the ball in behind for Aoife Connolly, but Armagh goalkeeper Anna Carr was alert to the danger, and raced out to intercept the pass.

At the other end, 2020 Footballer of the Year Aimee Mackin opened the scoring, as she curled one over off her left, but Westmeath’s dangerwoman Sarah Dillon levelled matters from a free.

Armagh then had a goal chance when Kelly Mallon’s free dropped short and was spilled by Westmeath shot-stopper Lauren McCormack. Aoife McCoy appeared to have the goal at her mercy, as all she had to do was flick the ball goalwards, but instead tried to catch the ball, but failed to gather it and the chance went missing.

Both sides then cracked the woodwork, with Aimee Mackin hitting the post from a free, before Vicky Carr’s long range shot dropped onto the crossbar.

Armagh then started to build momentum, as points from McCoy, Aimee Mackin and Mallon followed, with Mallon’s the most impressive – coming after a one-two with Catherine Marley.

A Sarah Dillon free reduced the gap, but the game’s most crucial score came on 20 minutes, when McConville shot for a point, which dipped at the last second and deceived Westmeath’s goalkeeper McCormack, with the ball slipping between her hands on its way into the net.

Armagh now smelled blood in the water, and they took full advantage, with three further points coming in quick succession from Caitriona O’Hagan, Aimee Mackin and McConville putting them in the ascendancy.

A third Sarah Dillon point had Westmeath hanging around, but their task became a mountain to climb moments before half-time, when Armagh scored their second goal of the game. It came from a well-worked move which saw Aimee Mackin played a pinpoint ball into the chest of Mallon, who laid the ball off for McCoy to bury from close range.

A second O’Hagan point saw Armagh take a resounding 2-8 to 0-3 lead at the break.

In the early stages of the second half, both sides created a number of goal chances. The first one came when Carr’s kickout came straight to Anna Jones, who probably should have punished the error, but dragged her effort wide of the bottom of the post.

Armagh then had a chance for a third goal when Aimee Mackin played a ball across the face of goal for Marley for who laid the ball on a plate for McCoy, but her effort was kept out by McCormack.

Aimee Mackin opened the second half’s scoring with a point, before Armagh tested McCormack again. This time Blaithin Mackin found her sister Aimee with a searching pass, and she sent Mallon through one on one, but her shot was denied by a very strong save.

On 37 minutes, Westmeath raised their only green flag of the game when a long ball in caused chaos in the Armagh backline, and was knocked through for Sarah Dillon to finish past Carr soccer-style.

Ciara Blundell then opened her account to reduce the deficit further, before Aimee Mackin threatened what was to come when she dummied through the Westmeath defence, but McCormack who was set on atoning for her earlier error made yet another save in a one-on-one situation.

Eve Lavery then added to Armagh’s lead, before Westmeath’s Ashley Ruane was harshly sent to the sin-bin, when she was adjudged to have charged into Armagh’s Niamh Marley, leaving the visitors a player light for the next 10 minutes of action.

From the resulting free, Blaithin Mackin stroked the ball over from distance, but Westmeath continued to battle, with points coming from Blundell and Connolly, whilst Armagh’s McCoy added to her tally, fisting over from close range.

On 49 minutes, Armagh emphatically put the game beyond all doubt with what has to be regarded as one of the finest goals scored throughout the entire league campaign. Aimee Mackin had three defenders between her and the goal, but she dipped and dived her way through Mary Danne, Kelly Boyce-Jordan and Chloe Kelly, before almost taking the roof off the net, with a blasted finish.

Over the dying stages of the game, both sides made a number of changes to introduce their wider panel members into the action, and Armagh claimed all three of the final points on offer, with Aimee Mackin scoring twice more before the full-time whistle, whilst Maeve Lennon was on hand to conclude the day’s scoring, with Armagh running out 3-15 to 1-6 winners.

Up next for Westmeath, they finish their campaign with a home encounter against Monaghan in Athlone next Sunday.

SCORERS - ARMAGH: Aimee Mackin (1-6, 1f), Aoife McCoy (1-2), Lauren McConville (1-1), Caitriona O’Hagan (0-2), Eve Lavery (0-1), Mave Lennon (0-1), Blaithin Mackin (0-1, 1f), Kelly Mallon (0-1).

WESTMEATH: Sarah Dillon (1-3, 2f), Ciara Blundell (0-2), Aoife Connolly (0-1, 1f).

ARMAGH: Anna Carr; Caitriona O’Hagan, Clodagh McCambridge, Louise Kenny; Grace Ferguson, Lauren McConville, Cait Towe; Niamh Coleman, Eve Lavery; Blaithin Mackin, Aimee Mackin, Emily Druse; Catherine Marley, Kelly Mallon, Aoife McCoy. Subs: Shauna Grey for Druse (HT), Niamh Marley for Lavery (41), Maeve Ferguson for Kenny (53), Blathnaid Hendron for Mallon (53), Dearbhla Coleman for O’Hagan (53), Brianna Mathers for Carr (58), Aoibheann McConville for C Marley (58), Megan McShane for Ferguson (58), Maeve Lennon for A Mackin (58).

WESTMEATH: Lauren McCormack; Mary Dunne, Lucy Power, Melek Fagan; Kelly Boyce-Jordan, Tracey Dillon, Chloe Kelly; Vicky Carr, Ashley Ruane; Anna Jones, Niamh Nolan, Rachel Dillon; Sarah Dillon, Aoife Connolly, Ciara Blundell. Subs: Aoife O’Malley for Fagan (HT), Laura Kiernan for Nolan (41), Mairead Newman for Rachel Dillon (49), Muireann Scally for Ruane (58), Susanna Buckley for Blundell (58).

Referee: Gavin Finnegan (Down).