GAA Football

Ulster sides set to begin All-Ireland campaigns

Patricia Mulgrew

ULSTER counties will get their All-Ireland campaigns underway this weekend with Derry and Cavan hoping to continue their fine runs having secured their respective Ulster titles.

In the Liberty Insurance Senior Championship, Derry will take on Clare at Donaghmore Ashbourne.

The Oak Leafers looked impressive as they saw off Down in the Ulster Senior final last week, but manager John A Mullan knows his side face a different task on Saturday from a Clare side who pushed Cork to extra-time in the National League semi-final.

"Saturday will be a tough game for us," he said.

"Clare have a bit more experience than us at senior level and have some very good players in Maire McGrath, Niamh O'Dea and Naomi Carroll.

"One thing I will be looking from the girls is work-rate. I have watched a couple of clips of the Ulster final and one of the things that stood out was our work-rate and commitment to the tackle. We will need the same on Saturday."

He added: "This is a game that will be key to both sides All-Ireland campaigns.

"Clare will probably be targeting us for the points like we are with them. We have been thinking about games like this since September, so the girls are really looking forward to getting out their and testing how far we have progressed."

Meanwhile, Antrim will be hoping to get their Intermediate campaign off to a good start.

The Saffrons have been without competitive action following their defeat to Down in the Ulster Championship, but manager Jim McKernan is confident his young side will give Cork a real test.

"The League is done and dusted," he said.

"We had a good tight game with Down in the Ulster semi-final and we pushed them all the way.

"Training has been good and we will be going down to Ashbourne to do our best and gauge where we are. It will be a young team lining out but I am confident that they will give a good team performance."

It is an all-Ulster tie in the opening game of the Premier Junior section as Down take on Armagh.

Down captain Fionnuala Carr said the Mourne girls will want to bounce back quickly following their Ulster final defeat to Derry.

"We are hurting a bit after the Derry game but we have regrouped and trainings have went well this week," she confirmed.

"We are looking forward to the match on Sunday. It's the start of the Championship and that brings its own buzz.

"We are also looking forward to get back out on the pitch were we can right a few wrongs and put in a performance that we know we are capable of."

In the Junior 'A' section, Cavan will face Carlow on Sunday.

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