Dissapointed Mallon hoping to finish the season on a high

By Niall McCoy

ARMAGH attacker Kelly Mallon is not a good loser, so she isn’t exactly sure how she feels heading into Saturday’s Ulster final with Donegal.

The Orchard county’s season came to a surprise end with an All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Meath recently, and the fact that the Royals smashed and grabbed a final appearance against Cork at the weekend doesn’t lighten the despair.

Ulster titles are not be sniffed at though, and having lifted one at the tail-end of last year as Armagh captain, Mallon is hoping to repeat the dose against the Tir Chonaill county.

This will be third provincial final meeting between the counties in four years with Donegal hammering them on both previous occasions. Mallon doesn’t feel that those games will count for too much in Omagh however.

“I don’t think it (the Meath loss) is something that you can just get over that quickly but I suppose we are lucky that we have something else to look forward to,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to potentially finish the year on a high.

“There’s probably a lot of press at the minute about us underestimating Meath slightly but certainly we didn’t do that. We knew what threat they were going to pose and that it was going to be a serious battle. On the day they outworked us and started far better, and it was hard to claw ourselves back from that.”

Mallon continued: “Donegal beat us very convincingly in those finals in 2018 and 2019 but both teams have changed quite a bit since then.

“We haven’t played in the championship now for a few years so it’s pretty new and fresh although obviously we have that rivalry with Donegal. It’s been going on for a number of years.”

Mallon is known for having a good tactical eye, but anyone watching their defeat to Meath could see that they struggled to break down a massed defence.

It’s something that isn’t too prevalent in the normally free-flowing ladies’ game and the Armagh Harps-Madden dual player hopes it’s not a trend that begins to sneak in more and more.

“They played better against us than they did against Cork. I thought Cork were the better team over the 60 minutes. They’ll be kicking themselves after it, eight points up with three minutes left and not being able to see it out.

“Fair play to Meath for their never-say-die attitude and for pushing to the final whistle.

“They have a system that I wouldn’t be a fan of as a forward but they all know it and they all buy into it.

“Generally you’d have a drop from number 10 or number 12 or a couple of half-forwards but you’d rarely see that 11, 12, 13 players behind the ball.

“Even in the Cork game, the first half was 4-4 and it was very difficult to watch. It was just lateral football and sort of reminded you of the Donegal 2011 team.”

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