McCleary double in Armagh rout of Wicklow

CLANN Eireann’s Sinead McCleary bagged a brace of goals as Armagh recorded their first victory of 2013 in stunning style by giving lowly Wicklow an absolute thrashing in Culloville.

But for the atrocious conditions, the Armagh margin might have been even more than the 45 points which separated the sides at the end of this embarrassing mismatch.

The Orchard outfit won 8-26 to 1-2, with Wicklow managing only a single point in the second half as the hosts filled their boots, captain Caroline O’Hanlon’s haul of 2-5 being more than twice the entire visiting team’s tally.

The All Star’s fellow midfielder McCleary contributed 2-3 with young full forward Caitlin Malone also a double goal-scorer, Kelly Mallon kicking 1-4 and sub Caroline O’Hare posting six points from play on an afternoon when 11 Armagh players got on the scoreboard.

Armagh marked their return to action on home soil for the first time since lifting the All Ireland Intermediate title last October in emphatic fashion, though the Lurgan contingent in the team was markedly down from the Croke Park showpiece.

With both McAlinden sisters still missing, Shauna O’Hagan having retired and teenagers Niamh Henderson and Ciara Lennon being benched for this one, it was left to McCleary and full back Laura Brown to fly the flag for Craigavon.

Armagh’s hero of the opening day draw with Down when she scored almost half her team’s tally including two points in injury-time to snatch the orangewomen a share of the spoils, McCleary has had an eye-catching start to the season.

Her midfield partnership with stand-in skipper O’Hanlon is the side’s strongest unit and will be crucial to the Orchard chances of at least getting to this year’s Ulster senior final and having an All Ireland run.