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Ring-rusty Tyrone ladies have a day to forget

Ulster Ladies Senior Championship semi-final

Armagh 4-14

Tyrone 1-10

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TYRONE ladies paid the price for a disastrous opening half hour in today’s Ulster Championship semi-final against Armagh – but at least they will get the chance to make amends when they meet again in a fortnight’s time in an All-Ireland Championship group stage match.

This was Tyrone’s first match in seven months, and their rustiness was only too evident as they conceded heavily in the first-half against the Orchard County, trailing 4-11 to 1-3 at the half-time interval.

To a large degree they were the architect’s of their own misfortune as they afforded the Armagh attackers far too much space and they took full advantage.

This was Aimee Mackin’s first intercounty match in 16 months after overcoming an ACL injury, and she was right at the heart of everything that was good about Armagh’s play, calming finding the net in the ninth minute to leave the scoreboard reading 1-5 to no score.

Tyrone were having particular bother carrying the ball out of defence, and things went from bad to worse when Aimee’s sister Blaithin and Caroline O’Hanlon pounced for further goals.

Gerry Moane’s side mustered a goal of their own but it was a fortuitous one as Niamh O’Neill’s pointed effort ended up lobbing the keeper, and Armagh finished the half strongly with a second major from Blaithin Mackin.

A major humiliation was on the cards, but Tyrone were much improved the second-half. Niamh O’Neill grabbed a couple of scores to reduce the deficit while the fleet-footed Niamh Hughes and midfielder Aoibheann McHugh were starting to impose themselves on proceedings.

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Armagh embellished their lead with scores from Caroline O’Hanlon and Catherine Marley, but Tyrone refused to throw in the towel and actually hit the final four points of the game from O’Neill (three of them) and a fine effort from their best performer on the day, Niamh McGirr.

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