Armagh Ladies star Lavery ready for Royal rumble

All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Group B Round 2
Armagh v Meath
Sunday, Pearse Park, 3.45pm

By Shaun Casey

LAST season, Meath took Armagh (and the country) by surprise as they came from nowhere to capture the All-Ireland title. The Royals halted Armagh’s All-Ireland journey at the quarter final stage with a counter-attacking game plan that saw them run out seven-point winners.

Emma Duggan, Niamh O’Sullivan and Emma Troy all hit the net as Meath took their first big scalp of the season. One year on and Armagh are back on the saddle again and building towards another promising All-Ireland series.

They begin their campaign with the toughest challenge of all, taking on the All-Ireland champions, who already have a game under their belt, defeating Monaghan 1-13 to 0-1 in their opening round.

The element of surprise is gone this time around and Eve Lavery suggests her side know what to expect from Meath, having had more time to prepare.

“Of course, we’ve had more time to look at them. Last year we only really had a week to prepare for their system. That being said no matter how much time you have to look at the videos, if you don’t work hard enough, you’ll generally come out on the wrong side of the game.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a revenge game, but we certainly weren’t pleased with our performance (last year), and we feel like we let ourselves down. Our intensity wasn’t where it needed to be, but we learnt a lot from it.”

Armagh bounced back brilliantly this year and while they failed to secure promotion to the top tier during the league, they showed a never say die attitude to come back from the death, not once but twice in the Ulster final and claim three-in-a-row provincial titles.

While Ronan Murphy’s side enjoyed the historic achievement, the Ballyhegan native insists that the girls won’t be resting on their laurels and attention swiftly turned to the next challenge, the All-Ireland series.

“We’re obviously delighted with the Ulster final win and to win in that manner added to it as well, it also shows that we have the ability to win crunch games which is important too.

“But that’s done now and our focus moved quickly to our next game. Hopefully we can carry that momentum into our All-Ireland campaign.

“We had a couple of tough sessions, and everyone is working hard, the sessions have been great and we’re constantly challenging each other.”

Armagh are recognised as one of the top teams in the country having reached the All-Ireland semi-finals (2020) and quarter finals (2019 and 2021) in recent years.

The next step is to reach the decider and from an Orchard County perspective, hopefully climb the steps of the Hogan Stand in the near future.

But Lavery explains that the team haven’t laid out any particular targets for the next few weeks and their approach will be to worry about each game as it comes.

“We haven’t set a specific target; we’re just meeting each challenge as it comes and hoping to develop as a team,” she concluded.

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