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Ulster Ladies final: You never think it’s gone with these girls – Armagh boss Ronan Murphy

Manager Ronan Murphy said he never felt Armagh were beaten despite them twice having to come back from the brink to win the Ulster Ladies Football title.

The Orchard County were four points behind Donegal with 10 seconds of normal time remaining before an Aimee Mackin goal and a Kelly Mallon free forced extra time.

Then, in the final minute of extra time, Mallon scored a goal to give her side a hugely dramatic 3-17 to 2-19 victory to secure a third Ulster Championship success in a row.

“You don’t ever think it is gone from you with this group of girls,” said Murphy after the game at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones.

“They are so talented and so committed that you always have a chance. I knew how the game had shaped up before and that we were always going to get our chances and always going to get our purple patches, and likewise with Donegal.

“When those situations come down to the wire it really is down to the players, though there is an element of luck as well.

“At that stage it is in the lap of the Gods. We knew the game would ebb and flow and that there was always the possibility [of scoring].

“We did the same last year so we knew it was in us. Aoife Lennon picked a great pass and I suppose that is the beauty of having very good finishers on the bench.”

Aimee Mackin’s goal helped force extra time in Sunday’s final

It is the second consecutive year that Armagh have edged Donegal by a single point in a thrilling final, with captain Mallon hitting 1-8 in total and Mackin delivering a personal tally of 1-5.

Having also got their hands on the silverware in 2020 – when Donegal did not compete in the competition – and 2021, Murphy is happy with how his squad is progressing.

“That’s three titles in a row and that’s great growth by anybody’s measurements, so we are delighted,” he continued.

“We were very disappointed that we lost the league final when we didn’t show what we are truly worth at Croke Park and that is the disappointment of the group, and still is, but this will go some way towards putting that to bed.

“Still, though, you don’t look back, you just keep looking forward. It is a great stepping stone now for the All-Ireland series, which we are looking forward to.”

Murphy also had a word of consolation for the beaten finalists, managed by Maxi Curran and for whom Geraldine McLaughlin starred by scoring 1-11.

“The quality of the football out there was second to none. I don’t think there would have been a better game of football anywhere this weekend,” he added.

“Donegal are a great team with lots of quality players. We knew that if we were there or thereabouts we would not be far away and, likewise, they would be the same. I am just so delighted that we finished strongly and that Kelly hit the back of the net.”

Armagh now join either Dublin or Meath in Group B of the All-Ireland series, which also contains Monaghan, while beaten Donegal will go into Group D along with Cork or Kerry and Waterford.

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