Dublin and Cork are the favourites to reach the final in ladies football

IT’S down to the semi-finals in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship with two great games in store.

At the start of the campaign most would have predicted Cork, Dublin, Galway would all be there, but the slight surprise package is Armagh.

Mayo would have been the fancied side to come through that group, but the Ulster side have been improving over the last few seasons and that hard work has paid off as they now face Dublin on November 28.

Two Aimee Mackin goals and one each from Kelly Mallon and Catherine Marley denied Mayo a return to the knock-out stages as they won by 4-12 to 1-16. They also defeated Cork in the group stages last year, a game that didn’t matter as the Rebel side had already qualified for the knock-out stages. 

But no matter what Cork don’t like losing and Armagh deserved their win on the day. However that game was a mixed day for Mackin.

She has probably been the star of this championship so far this season and considering she missed out on last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final between the teams through injury, which Mayo won by three points, she was determined to make up for that.

A fortnight earlier, Armagh had defeated Cork, a landmark victory for the county, with her younger sister Bláithín named player of the match.

“The Cork game was mixed emotions for me, but I was delighted to see us beating them. It’s such a historic team to come up against and to get a win against them was something that was massive for us, for our county.

“After the game, I came down to congratulate Bláithín, we were in the huddle and I didn’t see her. I was wondering where she was and then someone told me she got Player of the Match.

“I was delighted for Bláithín, it was probably her best game for us. She really stood up when the team needed her; she has improved over the last few years and came into her own in the county set up.

“Then, going in against Mayo in the quarter-final, it was a very tough game, but I thought we held our own for periods of the game and we were unlucky not to get the win.”

Watching her county slip to a one-goal loss to Mayo was made all the harder considering Aimee had just received the diagnosis of her knee injury.

“I just was changing direction before half-time (against Cork) and I felt like a crunch in my knee. At the time you don’t really know what’s happened, because I had never experienced anything like that.

“I was very hopeful that it wasn’t anything too serious, but then a few days later I got the news that... it wasn’t the best of news. You just have to get on with it, not much is going to change at that point.”

But that’s behind her now and she is looking forward to causing another upset in the semi-final.

Cork and Dublin will be favourites to the final and overall it’s difficult to see beyond them.

With the likes of Saoirse Noonan, Aine O’Sullivan, Hannah Looney, Melissa Duggan and Roisin Phelan all in top form, Galway know they have their work cut out, but like Armagh they will be hoping to cause another upset in their respective semi-finals.

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