Armagh Girls Claim Semi-Final Spot

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Armagh Girls Claim Semi-Final Spot
The Palace Grounds was the stage for a Quarter-final fixture in the Ulster Youth Cup on Monday evening. The City of Armagh girls were facing Malone RFC and both sides had their eyes set on a Semi-final berth. The remarkably dry conditions allowed the game to be played at a high tempo, with handling skills of the highest order on display.
Armagh’s intensity put enormous pressure on the Malone team and a resulting knock-on gained Armagh a scrum deep in the visitors half. Stacey Fluke managed to pick up and surged over the line for Armagh’s first try. Within 2 minutes, Morna O’Hanlon doubled the advantage following a slick inside pass from Vicky Irwin. The rest of the half belonged to a dominant Armagh side, with further scores from Rachel Paynter (2), another from O’Hanlon and with Lisa Henry and Leah McGoldrick adding 1 try apiece. Halftime 35 – 0.
From the restart, Malone forward, Laura Hamill, ripped the ball from a maul and scampered in for her team’s first score. Undetered, Armagh surged forward and claimed tries, again from Henry and McGoldrick. Armagh’s tenth try was the pick of the bunch. Nicole Gorman rampaged up to the Malone 22, with her support players supplying quick ball from the ruck. Irwin took play up the blind side and released O’Hanlon, who drew the covering defense before popping the ball back inside for Irwin to score unopposed. Gabrielle Fox rounded off Armagh’s scoring with a fine try. 55 – 5.
Credit must be given to a Malone side who had spent the evening trying to hold back the tide. Not only did they not give up, but scored two well deserved tries through Lucy Fisher and Bethany McDowall, to end the game on the front foot. Final score 55 – 15.
A delighted Armagh coach, Neil Rafferty, described his team’s performance as “simply magnificent”. He added that their passing and fast offloads would not have been out of place at the highest level.
Armagh’s “reward” for their night’s work is an away Semi-final fixture on Sunday, against Ulster Champions, Virginia. Armagh’s improvement over these last few months has been immense and they will travel to Co Cavan with confidence high and a new steeliness to boot.

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