John McVitty/INPHO Meath star Vikki Wall facing Armagh.

Meath stun Armagh to book All-Ireland semi-final spot in first year back in senior ranks

Star forward Emma Duggan fired 1-5 as the Royals were 3-15 to 1-14 winners.

Meath 3-15

Armagh 1-14

Aisling Clery reports from St Tiernach’s Park, Clones

EMMA DUGGAN FIRED a brilliant 1-5 as Meath booked their place in the TG4 All-Ireland senior championship Semi-final with a stylish victory over Armagh at St Tiernach’s Park.

First-half goals from Duggan and Niamh O’Sullivan gave the Royals — 2020 intermediate champions in their first year back up senior — a comfortable interval lead, and despite the scoring prowess of Aimee Mackin, Armagh could not get back into contention.

Mackin scored 1-6 for last year’s semi-finalists, but a second-half goal from the impressive Emma Troy sealed a convincing win for Eamon Murray’s charges, who now go on to face either Cork or Waterford in the semi final in two weeks’ time.

The game began at a rapid pace with Meath enjoying a lucrative opening quarter, dominating possession and attacking almost at will. Vikki Wall opened the scoring for Meath before Kelly Mallon grabbed the first of three first-half frees to level the game. 

Orlagh Lally doubled Meath’s advantage, before a perfectly-timed pass from Wall gave Duggan the space to slot the ball into the back of Anna Carr’s net. 

A long-range Duggan free coupled with a fine Bridgetta Lynch point ensured Meath took a commanding 1-4 to 0-1 lead into the first-half water break. 

Meath hit 1-1 in the space of 60 seconds then to open up a commanding lead. Aoibhín Cleary split the posts and the resulting kick out was captured by the Royals; Orla Byrne found O’Sullivan and she hit the net.

This seemed to spur Armagh into attack and three points inside two minutes brought the deficit back to seven. Aimee Mackin hit two points between a fine effort from Alexandra Clarke. 

Meath were patient in their build up and were rewarded with a point from Stacey Grimes and a second point from Lally. However, two Mallon frees ensured Armagh stayed seven points adrift at the half-time whistle. 

The teams traded scores when the second half resumed with little to separate them. Duggan, Lally, O’Sullivan and Grimes all pointed for Meath in the third quarter, while Eve Lavery and three Aimee Mackin points kept Armagh in touch. 

Blathin Mackin scored a long-range point just before the second-half water break to trim the gap back to seven points, but Troy eased the pressure on Meath when she found the net moments later.

shauna-ennis-mary-kate-lynch-aoibhin-cleary-katie-newe-and-maire-oshaughnessy-celebrate-after-the-game John McVitty / INPHO Meath's Shauna Ennis, Mary Kate Lynch, Aoibhin Cleary, Katie Newe and Maire O'Shaughnessy celebrate after the game. John McVitty / INPHO / INPHO

Meath were reduced to 14 players for the final eight minutes when Lynch was sin-binned and Aimee Mackin hit the net four minutes from time. But Meath held possession and their nerve in the closing stages to book a historic semi-final place. 

It may be seen as a shock by many, but the Royals have been in stunning form this season, building from their Division 2 league title win.

Scorers for Meath: E Duggan 1-5 (3f), N O’Sullivan 1-1, E Troy 1-0, O Lally 0-3, S Grimes 0-3 (1f), A Cleary 0-1, V Wall 0-1, B Lynch 0-1.

Scorers for Armagh: A Mackin 1-6 (1f), K Mallon 0-3 (3f), G Ferguson 0-1, E Lavery 0-1, B Mackin 0-1, A Clarke 0-1, N Reel 0-1.

ARMAGH: A Carr, S Marley, C McCambridge, G Ferguson, E Lavery, L McConville, T Grimes, K Mallon (C), N Coleman, B Mackin, N Marley, F McKenna, A Mackin, A McCoy, A Clarke.

Subs: C Marley for Coleman (16), N Reel for S Marley (h-t), M Sheridan for Lavery (38), E Druse for McKenna (44).

MEATH: M McGuirk, E Troy, MK Lynch, K Newe, A Leahy, A Cleary, S Ennis, O Lally, M O’Shaughnessy, O Byrne, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan, V Wall, E Duggan, B Lynch.

Subs: M Thynne for O Byrne (43), N Gallogly for Leahy (46), S Melia for O’Sullivan (56).

Referee: Brendan Rice (Down)

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