TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' SFC Group 1, round one
Armagh 3-12 Laois 2-8
ARMAGH proved too good once more for Laois as they began their All-Ireland championship campaign witha victory.
The Orchard county made it three wins from three over the O’Moore county, following up their league and Division Two league final wins with this championship triumph in Portlaoise on Saturday.
With Aimee Mackin not starting having been forced off through injury in the Ulster final against Donegal a few weeks ago, although she was introduced with 10 minutes remaining, the scoring was distributed among seven players, Aoife McCoy top-scoring with 2-1 while captain Kelly Mallon and Eve Lavery both finished with three points.
Just as they did in that league final back in April, a strong first-half performance laid the foundation for this win for Shane McCormack’s side.
They led 2-7 to 0-5 at half-time and they needed that eight-point advantage as, as expected, Laois battled hard, reducing the gap to three, leaving a kick of the ball between them with five minutes remaining.
Mallon and Sarah Ann Fitzgerald traded the first two points in the opening minutes before Armagh took early control with points from Niamh Reel, Blaithin Mackin and Lauren McConville to lead 0-4 to 0-1 after 12 minutes.
Mo Nerney halved the Armagh lead but two goals in as many minutes, McCoy in the 15th and Reel in the 17th minute, either side of a Lavery point, put Armagh ahead by nine, 2-5 to 0-2 with Mallon and Mackin pushing that out to 11 with 26 minutes gone.
Laois, though, hit the last three points of the half through Nerney, Orla Hennessy and Fitzgerald to trail by eight at the break.
The gap was still eight, 2-8 to 0-6, when Laura Nerney was sin-binned in the 39th minute, but despite the numerical disadvantage, the home side found the back of the net through Donoghue in the 40th minute.
The Armagh response was ideal and points from Caitriona O’Hagan, Lavery and McCoy had wiped out the goal within four minutes and the gap was back to eight, 2-11 to 1-6.
Laois came at their visitors again and Donoghue struck for a second goal in the 55th minute and Fitzgerald followed up with a point to bring them to within three and set up a nervy finish.
However, Armagh got the next important score, a Lavery point, and McCoy rounded the goalkeeper to finish to the net to ensure they took all three points.
Laois E Barry; S Farrelly, C Dunne, A Kelly; S Havill, E Healy (capt.), L Nerney; A Healy, O Hennessy; A Kirrane, L.M. Maher, G Moran, SA Fitzgerald, M Nerney, K Donoghue
Subs T Byrne for Moran (54), Ellie O'Connell for Nerney (60).
Armagh A Carr; S Grey, C McCambridge, L Kenny; G Ferguson, L McConville, C Towe; N Coleman, E Lavery; B Mackin, A McCoy, E Druse; N Reel, K Mallon (capt.), C Hagan
Subs M Ferguson for Grey, A Mackin for O'Hagan (both 44), N Marley for Towe (51), B Hendron for Mallon (60).
Referee P Smith (Waterford).