Young gun Fionnuala McKenna produced a dazzling individual display as Armagh clinched their place in the Division Three semi-finals with an away win against previous Tesco HomeGrown National Football League leaders Leitrim.

The Armagh Harps teenager notched 1-7 from centre half forward as the unbeaten Orchard outfit ended their hosts’ 100 percent record on a bitterly cold afternoon in Ballinamore.

It was a superb performance by James Daly’s side against opponents who had won four from four and only lost by two points in the Athletic Grounds last season.

This was a particularly impressive victory considering Armagh were missing several stalwarts who featured in the corresponding game including captain Mags McAlinden, Shauna O’Hagan and Sinead McCleary.

McCleary’s unavailability due to her midwifery placement in Malta was a worry coming into this top of the table clash as she had top scored in three of Armagh’s first four fixtures of 2013.

Her absence piled pressure on captain Caroline O’Hanlon to deliver something special but the All Star actually had a relatively quiet afternoon as the youngsters stuck their hands up.

The brightest rising star McKenna shouldered responsibility for the right-footed frees and nailed five of them to go with a cracking goal and two points from play.

Her goal helped the visitors go in three points in front in spite of facing a strong wind in the opening half on a day Armagh reaped a confidence dividend from the historic O’Connor Cup success by Queen’s University last week.

As well as McKenna’s excellent contribution, Carrickcruppen’s Caitlin Malone dominated midfield, Danielle Morgan was effective as sweeper and goalkeeper Katie Daly impressed with her kick-outs as well as a great second half save.

With Down suffering an unexpected thrashing away to Tipperary, Armagh are now the only unbeaten team in the third division and will want to finish first by winning their remaining two matches.

They host Tipp on Easter Sunday before travelling to another team in contention for a play-off place, last year’s All Ireland Intermediate semi-final opponents, Longford.


by Richard Bullick

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