Hurling & Camogie

Armagh camogie manager insists Laois start as favourites for Division 3A decider

Orchard county welcome back experienced players for league final

Glen-Dimplex All-Ireland Junior Camogie Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 7/8/2022
Antrim vs Armagh
Armagh’s Eimear O'Kane
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Evan Treacy
Eimear O'Kane has been a key player for Armagh this season in their bid for promotion (©INPHO/Evan Treacy ©INPHO/Evan Treacy/©INPHO/Evan Treacy)

ARMAGH camogie manager Sean Hughes admits that Laois should start favourites for the Division 3A crown and not just because they beat his team by 3-12 to 0-12 at the start of March.

“The goals were the difference that day alright,” says the former Keady dual player who now lives in Ballymacnab.

“But overall they are more experienced team.

“They have played in Division Two and, despite relegation, have managed to hold most of their panel together.

“By contrast there are big changes in the Armagh panel since last year. We lost a couple of players to ACL injuries, a couple more have gone to Australia while Corrina Doyle opted to play county football this year. I think there was maybe a turnover of around a dozen players from last year.

“There are plenty of new players in the panel. Young minors like Aoife Byrne, Áine Doyle and Rose Boden are looking very good and they will have bigger roles in the future. At the minute, we were trying to get them game time during the group stages.

“Then you have a few other more experienced players coming back into the panel; Eimear O’Kane was in Australia, Niamh Forker was doing a course in Limerick, Ciara Geogeghan had a baby there five months ago and you have Eimear Hayes working her way back from injury.

“It’s great to have them back in the panel. But it is hard to give everyone a fair chance during the group stages. You want to get a look at everyone, but that means changing the team around when you want to be getting a settled team to compete for trophies.”

Hughes was impressed by the reports coming back from the Higher Education competitions about Sinéad Quinn (QUB) and Cara Crilly (UUJ) and Quinn in particular has brought that form to the Armagh forward line, accumulating 2-15 across their four games to date.

“You want to see Armagh players playing alongside girls from the top counties and learning from them, holding their own and coming back to us as better players.

“The early part of the year has been about developing a team,” says Hughes as he looks ahead to Saturday’s head to head with Laois.

“Yes, we are in a league final and definitely want to win that final. But the important thing is that we produce a performance and give it our best shot.”