TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' SFC quarter-final: Armagh v Kerry (Saturday, Nowlan Park, 6.30pm, live on TG4)
ARMAGH find themselves with a very winnable scenario going into this evening's All-Ireland Senior Championship last eight clash against Kerry.
This is the second quarter-final of a double-header at Kilkenny's Nowlan Park with Dublin and Waterford in action beforehand.
The Orchard county has a great chance of making the semi-finals and, despite Kerry being in the way,
Sean O'Kane's side will have nothing to fear.
Armagh have already defeated Westmeath in the Qualifiers. Although they made hard work of their 3-16 to 4-11 win over the resilient Leinster men, finishing the game with 13 players after two sin-bins late on, it should stand to them.
Kerry, having won the Munster Championship, come into the
All-Ireland series at the quarter-final stage with Armagh hoping to catch them on the back foot and get off to a good start. The sides met earlier this season in the Division One league and, like quite a few of Armagh's league games this season, it was one that got away. They should have come back up the road from Kerry with a win, but instead it was a defeat that contributed to them losing their status as a top tier league team.
Kerry won 0-11 to 0-9 on home and turf in a close encounter the week after Armagh won well away to Dublin, that win and one over Cork their only two league wins.
Armagh led against Kerry at
half-time, but got only two points in the second half, while Armagh beat them at home, 4-11 to 0-12, when the sides met in the league last year.
O'Kane spoke before the Westmeath game about the need to start putting together a performance and, although he got the result he wanted he knows a better performance is needed to overcome Kerry. And he believes his team can find that.
“We got things about 80 per cent right against Westmeath,” said O'Kane.
“We need to up that to at least 90 per cent against Kerry. The performance was excellent at times against Westmeath and at times patchy.
“We had the game put to bed twice and let them back in, we had two goals disallowed and some ill-discipline crept in too and we need to up the ante against Kerry.
“The good things we have been doing well, it's about continuing to do them, but we have also been working hard on improving the things we feel have been letting us down and trying to cut out those mistakes. The girls are clued in and know what they have to do.
“We have the utmost respect for Kerry but we do not fear them. They are a big physical side and they are dangerous. We need to be consistently good and I feel that if we are as good as I know we can be and need to be, then we will win.”
There is no bigger incentive than an All-Ireland semi-final berth against either Dublin or Waterford and O'Kane knows that.
“If you look at any of the teams remaining there is nothing between them. It is anyone's for the taking and if you get to an All-Ireland semi-final you never know what could happen,” he added.
“Everyone is very much looking forward to the game and everyone knows we must hit our potential if we are to be thinking of an All-Ireland semi-final.”
TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' JFC Group B, round two: Fermanagh v Antrim (Sunday, Donagh, 2pm)
THE all-Ulster All-Ireland Junior Championship Group B qualifying campaign continues tomorrow with Fermanagh aiming to book their place in the semi-finals – but standing in their way are Antrim.
It is the Saffrons' first taste of Championship action since their provincial exit to Derry and, as last year's All-Ireland junior finalists, they will be keen to get to back to Croke Park on the last Sunday in September.
Fermanagh will be favourites for tomorrow's clash, but defeat will not signal the end of Antrim's hopes in this year's competition with the third and final game in Group B a winner-takes-all clash against neighbours Derry at the end of the month.
Antrim vice-captain Eimear Gallagher captains the side tomorrow in place of Emma Kelly, who is currently representing Ireland in the women's Aussie Rules competition in Australia.
Manager Seamus McKenna has been working them hard over the last few weeks, instilling the mindset of playing right to the end, something which they could have paid for in the Ulster championship game against Derry.
“We walked away from the Derry game extremely disappointed,” said Gallagher.
“We worked hard in the second half to take the lead and then switched off in the last few minutes for Derry to level it and force
extra-time. Derry took huge confidence from that and stepped it up and we just ran out of steam.
“Seamy has been trying to instil that work rate in us over the last few weeks.”
Antrim are also without defender Caoimhe Stewart and sisters Michelle and Emma Magee who have been called up to the Northern Ireland senior netball panel.
Fermanagh captain Aine McGovern says they want to get the job done tomorrow and book their place in a semi-final but can take nothing for granted.
“We want nothing more than to secure our place in an All-Ireland semi-final. We know Antrim will be a tough game. This is Antrim's first game of the All-Ireland series so they will want to win just as much as we do.
“Our performance the last day against Derry was a step up from the Ulster games we previously played. The Championship series asks more from teams and we feel that as a team we have moved up a gear. As a team I feel we are getting stronger.