ARMAGH Ladies make their way to Croke Park this Sunday to take on Waterford in the Intermediate All-Ireland Football Final.
Waterford will be a tough task, but the ladies have faced many difficult challenges en route to the final and are one game away from landing the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup.
Armagh will come into the match as favourites, having beaten Waterford twice this year already, and the ladies from the Orchard County will have that mental edge over their Waterford opposition.
They defeated a resilient Longford side in the semi-final and will look at this match as one they can use to springboard themselves into the senior category.
James Daly will look to Mags McAlinden, Caroline Ó Hanlon and Laura Brown for inspiration in this final, which gets underway at 2pm.
Two former Armagh players will return to Croke, both hoping to see their daughters claim a slice of All-Ireland glory.
Noel Marley and Brian McAlinden played there on numerous occasions during their distinguished careers for Armagh, but now it’s the turn of their children to step into the spotlight.
Sisters Niamh and Sarah Marley will be joined by siblings Mags and Grainne McAlinden against Waterford.
Mags McAlinden will captain an Orchard County side that beat Cavan in the Ulster final before accounting for Longford to ensure their shot at the final.
While the McAlinden and Marley family representatives will bring experience to the table, the Armagh side also boasts a youthful hue, with players such as Fionnuala McKenna, Ciara Lennon, Katie Daly, Sharon Reel, Cailin Duffy and Siobhan Mackle in the squad.
Waterford were last in the final in 2010, when they were defeated by a strong Donegal outfit. Waterford were in a similar position to Cork in terms of dominance before the turn of the century.
Between 1991 and 2000, Waterford reached eight senior finals, emerging victorious in five of them, no mean feat considering they had never won a title up until 1991.
Manager Pat Ó Brien has assembled a team capable of getting back to the senior grade this year, with Michelle McGrath leading the charges. A key factor for Waterford will be to try and banish their final defeat to Donegal in 2010 and use the memory of that loss to push on for a win.
The prize on offer is the Mary Quinn Memorial, but also a chance to progress to the senior ranks and compete against the best in ladies football.
Best of luck to the ladies and hopefully the County will be celebrating an All-Ireland title on Sunday evening!
The game will be screened live on TG4 at 2pm.
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