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The 22nd August will define Armagh‘s season as they face Roscommon in a repeat of last year’s semi-final to decide who will lift the Nancy Murray Cup. The Rossie’s were victorious on that occasion but Armagh have been quietly going through the motions this season and having seen off Ulster neighbours Tyrone in the semi-final they now face the prospect of being All-Ireland champions.


Armagh’s recent success has been the result of months of hard training and dedication; indeed with their poor run in the National League the turn-around in the Orchard County is truly phenomenal.


Manager Patsy MaGee deserves credit for the commitment and belief that he has shown and Captain Joanne Mallon was full of praise for the man she feels has revitalized Armagh camogie: “”Patsy has been great and his commitment has been second to none. He fully believes in us and had instilled something which I think the county panel has been missing for a while æself-belief’. No matter what happened throughout the season, all the defeats he remained 100 per cent committed to Armagh camogie fully believing that we could turn it around and I think that filtered through to the team. We wanted to repay his belief and prove to him that he was right to believe in us.””


Armagh has also had their difficulties and tribulations off the pitch with a new manager coming in half-way through the season, with Sean Duffy stepping down from the role for personal reasons. They also had the disruption of losing some players and some new faces joining the panel but Mallon believes that these experiences helped to forge the team as a unit.


“”I think everyone knows that we didn’t have the best of starts to the season, our National League campaign was one to forget but what a lot of people don’t know is that things have been equally hard off the pitch. The change of manager unsettled players but Sean (Duffy) had us hitting the ground running and Patsy was able to build on this. Then towards the end of the League some new players joined the panel while others left to go to America and Australia and that took a bit of getting used to.


“”Thankfully at training we were able to work on a few plays and get used to those around us, it was just a matter of working at it, unfortunately for us we had to do it during the season but thankfully it came together at the right time. We were able to overcome everything and reach the final in the process,”” said Mallon.


Now that they are in the final Mallon is confident that her side will put in another performance saying: “”We know all about Roscommon, they beat us in the semi-final last year and in the qualifying stages this year so we’ll be out to get them in the final. We’ll be putting everything we have into training in the weeks leading up to the final, so far all the girls have given 110 per cent, we have to keep up that effort.


“”We’ll go into the final knowing that if we perform to our potential and believe we can do it anything is possible. Patsy told us before the semi-final with Tyrone that it’s all about who performs the best on the day so we have to ensure that we give it everything we can, hopefully that will be enough.””


There is another reason Mallon wants to bring the Nancy Murray Cup back to the Orchard County.


“”As captain of Armagh I am so proud of all the girls and I feel we owe it to ourselves and everyone who has supported us. We also want to repay Patsy and Sean for their belief but mainly we want to restore pride back into Armagh camogie and repay all of those who have maintained their belief in us; all those on the county board and not forgetting all those who help out with the clubs. All the girls are focused on bringing a cup back to Armagh and raise the profile of camogie within the county again.””




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