Armagh 5-14 Monaghan 1-12
By Richard Bullick
Armagh joint manager Fionnuala McAtamney was pleased with her side’s performance as they advanced to a second TG4 Ulster SFC in a row with a comprehensive win over Monaghan at the Athletic Grounds.
Armagh’s ability to score goals ensured they were able to weather a good rally before the break from Monaghan as they claimed a place in this year’s Ulster final. The Orchard County suffered a 28-point defeat to Donegal in last year's decider.
"We're delighted to be through to another Ulster final with the chance to make amends for a very disappointing day in Enniskillen last year," said McAtamney.
"Coming into this game we were very aware of Monaghan's championship pedigree and had spoken of the importance of a strong start.
"Getting a goal after less than half a minute gave us the perfect platform and I was pleased with how we pushed on and got scores in that first 15 minutes.
"Monaghan worked their way back into it on the scoreboard so at half-time we talked about needing to manage the game better.
"Maybe we weren't ruthless enough in putting them away when we had the ascendancy but overall it was a pleasing performance though there's still plenty to work on in the next few weeks."
Armagh set the tone early when Aoife McCoy got the first of her two goals as they built up a 13-point lead midway through the first half against a Farney team which came to town still searching for their first victory of 2019.
Monaghan, who have been Ulster finalists 17 times this century, closed the gap in the second quarter but Armagh recovered after the break and eased to a convincing victory.
Armagh got off to a dream start with a goal after just 18 seconds, McCoy hitting the Monaghan net after a sublime long ball by Caroline O'Hanlon found Blaithin Mackin.
Armagh opened up a 2-8 to 0-1 lead midway through the opening half when Mackin's shot came back off the woodwork and Niamh Reel slotted the ball into the net.
However, Monaghan fought back and outscored Armagh by 1-5 to a single point for the remainder of the half.
Corner back Casey Treanor and Chloe McBride each kicked good scores and although Armagh goalkeeper Caroline O'Hare saved a penalty from Cora Courtney, the Monaghan captain tucked away the rebound to cut the gap to 2-9 to 1-6 at the break.
Armagh pushed for victory with a 42nd-minute goal, touched home by Eve Lavery, who added a point before giving way to All Star Aimee Mackin who hadn't been deemed fit to start.
McCoy got Armagh's fourth goal and Blaithin Mackin raised a fifth green flag for Lorraine McCaffrey and Fionnuala McAtamney's team as the game ended in a torrential downpour.
Scorers - Armagh: A McCoy 2-1, K Mallon 0-5 (3f), B Mackin, N Reel 1-2 each, E Lavery 1-1, C O'Hanlon 0-2, A Mackin 0-1.
Monaghan: R Courtney 0-5 (4f), C Courtney 1-2 (1-0 pen), S Coyle 0-3, C Treanor 0-1, C McBride 0-1.
Armagh: C O'Hare, S Marley, E Lavery, R O'Reilly; C McKenna, C McCambridge, T Grimes; N Coleman, C O'Hanlon; M Moriarty, A McCoy, K Mallon; A Donaldson, B Mackin, N Reel. Subs: A Mackin for Lavery (42), C Morgan for O'Reilly (46), N Murphy for Reel (52), M Watters for Mallon (54), C Towe for C McKenna (57),
Monaghan: B Tierney; N Kerr, S Boyd, C Treanor; A McAnespie, H McSkane, S Coyle; A McCarey, E McAnespie; R Courtney, C Courtney, C McBride; E Woods, M Monaghan, C McAnespie. Subs: B McAleer for McBride (55), L Flynn for Monaghan (56), N McGuirk for Treanor (57), R Hughes for McSkane (58).
Referee: Yvonne Duffy (Cavan).