Hurling & Camogie

Armagh suffer more agony at premier junior level as Clare advance to final against Tipperary

Rachel Merry scored eight frees for Armagh but it was all in a losing cause
Rachel Merry scored eight frees for Armagh but it was all in a losing cause

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship semi-finals

Armagh 2-15 Clare 0-22 

Tipperary 2-12 Roscommon 0-8 

ARMAGH cannot seem to catch a break to win the All-Ireland premier junior championship.

They won the 2020 Covid competition that was restricted to first teams only and took the decision to remain at that level to re-build. 

However, successive final defeats have now been followed by a single-point defeat in a pulsating semi-final in Ashbourne on Saturday afternoon after they led by 2-14 to 0-15 after 47 minutes. 

They failed to add to their total until the fifth minute of added time, when Rachel Merry brought her personal tally to eight points from placed balls.

By then, Sarah Loughnane from frees and Grace Carmody from play had put Clare in a winning position.

An excellent goal after nine minutes from former Cork Allstar and All-Ireland senior winner Jenny Curry helped Armagh get control in a game dominated by frees.

Merry had given the Orchard county the lead in the third minute from a 45 and Loughnane, who finished with 10 points, equalised. 

Ellie McKee and Jennifer Daly had swapped points before Curry’s strike and the same pattern followed exchanges after the goal.

Teenager Sinéad Quinn added two Armagh points midway through the half for a lead of 1-6 to 0-7, but Clare scored four of the last six points before the break to tie the teams on 1-8 to 0-11. 

Loughnane scored three of those from frees, while Caoimhe Cahill picked off the other and was beginning to cause the Armagh defence a lot of bother. 

Cahill got the second-half scoring under way, but Merry and Corrina Doyle put Armagh ahead once more and Eimear Smyth’s goal five minutes into the second half put them up by 2-10 to 0-13. 

Although Loughnane and Cahill pulled back points, the Ulster side went into a five-point lead thanks to scores from Sinéad Quinn (two) and Merry frees (three). With 47 minutes gone, they looked to be in a comfortable position. 

However, player-of-the-match Grace Carmody and her midfield partner Niamh Mulqueen closed the gap and Clare began to ride on the momentum.

Carmody and Laoise O’Donnell brought the tie down to a single point and then Loughnane pointed twice from frees. The second foul was committed around 55 metres out but was moved inside the 45 following protests from Armagh. 

The game was now into injury-time and Carmody seemed to make it safe with another Clare point.

Although Armagh mounted a couple of late attacks their only return was a point from a Merry free and Clare, beaten by Antrim in an extra-time marathon last July, had made it through to this year’s showpiece final. 

In the other semi-final at Ashbourne, Tipperary, as expected, led the way from pillar to post against Roscommon.

They were 0-9 to 0-3 ahead at the break and two goals from Jean Kelly in the 50th and 52nd minutes sealed the win for the Premier county.


Armagh R Merry 0-8f; S Quinn 0-4; J Curry & E Smyth 1-0 each; E McKee 0-2; C Doyle 0-1 

Clare S Loughnane 0-10 (0-8f); G Carmody 0-4; C Cahill 0-3; J Daly 0-2; N Mulqueen 0-1