Armagh ladies facing tough Cork challenge to keep Championship hopes alive
TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2 round 3: Armagh v Cork (Today, Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, 3.45pm)
ARMAGH face 11-time All-Ireland champions Cork in a crunch final round clash this afternoon in Ballinasloe if they are to keep their Championship season alive.
The Orchard County, although underdogs, but will be going all out to win, but should they not, they can afford to lose but it must be by less than 16 points - the margin by which Monaghan lost to Cork last weekend. A 15 points or less defeat would see the Ulster finalists take the last of the quarter-final berths, setting up a knockout clash with either Donegal or Kerry.
Armagh saw how Monaghan came undone in last week's round two qualifier particularly in the second half, hitting 4-3 without reply including with two quick fire goals in the space of a minute early in the third quarter. Poor conversion rates, with a wides tally in double figures, eight in the first half, did not help Monaghan's cause, especially in that opening period when they had the lion's share of possession, and Armagh, although able to turn a similar scenario around against Monaghan when they hit 10 first half wides, know they cannot afford to be wasteful in front of the goals against Cork.
The week's break between the round one game against Monaghan, which ended in a 1-11 apiece draw, and this afternoon's game, has allowed Aimee Mackin to recover from injury and she is available for selection having not featured at all against Monaghan, while Kelly Mallon, who came on as a substitute in that game, is also fully fit for a starting place.
It gives managers Fionnuala McAtamney and Lorraine McCaffrey a ‘good’ headache, as they sit down to choose a starting 15.
Blaithin Mackin replaced her sister Aimee in the team that took the field last day out and was a constant thorn in the Monaghan defence, finishing with 1-1, her goal 11 minutes from the end bringing Armagh to within a point of their opponents, and she will be eager to retain her place.
Up until last year, Armagh had never beaten Cork in a senior game, although they had come close on a number of occasions, but they finally got the duck off their back when the sides met in the Division One league.
The fact these players, the likes of Caroline O'Hanlon, Aimee Mackin, Fionnuala McKenna, Mairead Tennyson, Aoife McCoy know they are good enough to beat the queenpins of ladies football for the past decade should be a huge psychological boost and joint managers Lorraine McCaffrey and Fionnuala McAtamney know that if they can get it right on the day, they can pull off a massive win.
“We know what we have to do and hopefully we can take advantage of the additional week’s rest and now it is time to go out and deliver," said McCaffrey.
"In last week’s game, I thought Monaghan were unfortunate at times but we saw the difference between the first half Cork and the second half Cork performance.
"We certainly know and are aware of their goal threat and it is up to us to be ready and prepared to contain that.
"Our aim is to go out and win the game. We do know, however, that if that does not happen, that we must keep the gap low.
"We know we are underdogs but at the same time, we know if we go out and perform, we can beat them.
"They defeated them in the league last year for the first time at senior level and that is a huge mental boost too knowing that they can beaten them before.
"The girls have trained very hard and are looking forward to the game. They never go out not to try and win and that’s what we are going to do.
"We need to hit the ground running and take our chances. It’s a big challenge and on top of it, it really is knockout football. There are no more chances from here on in.”
TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Group 2 round 3: Tyrone v Offaly (Tomorrow, Mullahoran, 2pm)
TYRONE already have one foot in the All-Ireland intermediate quarter-finals and they can seal that last eight place and finish top of Group two with victory over Offaly tomorrow in Mullahoran.
The Ulster champions have thus far not really been tested in either the provincial competition or this All-Ireland qualifier series and although Wicklow did ask some questions of them in the first quarter of their round one game, they came too good in the end, winning 5-18 to 2-6.
So far it’s as it should be for last year’s All-Ireland finalists, who really at this stage only need to keep ticking over to see them get to the knockout stages before hitting the ground running when the opposition levels begin to step up.
Wicklow defeated Offaly last weekend and will be hoping for a Tyrone victory to see them progress to the quarter-finals as group runners-up. There’s a lot at stake for Offaly as defeat would see them enter the relegation battle to safe their intermediate status.
TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Group 3 round 3: Down v Kildare (Tomorrow, Kinnegad, 3.45pm)
DOWN are on the verge of exiting this year’s All-Ireland intermediate championship and facing a relegation battle if they fail to take something from their final round qualification game against Kildare tomorrow.
After a good league campaign that saw them reach the Division Three semi-finals, Down have had a difficult championship campaign, and although they did reach the Ulster final with a victory over Fermanagh in the semis, they lost heavily twice to champions Tyrone, including the final, and to Meath and Wexford in the All-Ireland stage while having to also deal with a change in management following the departure of Ryan McShane.
However, Kildare are feeling as much pressure as Down, having also lost their two previous group games. There is a lot at stake for both teams and Down also go into this game knowing they have recorded victory over their opposition once already this year in the league.
TG4-All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Group 4 round 3: Fermanagh v Roscommon (Tomorrow, Mullahoran, 3.45pm)
FERMANAGH could find themselves in a relegation battle to save their intermediate championship status if they go down to Roscommon tomorrow in their final group game.
The Erne County, who returned to the middle tier just this year after winning the All-Ireland junior title last September, have found the going tough so far, having lost to Down in the provincial semi-final and then Meath in their first round group four game two weeks ago. Roscommon defeated Meath last week, which leaves them both on three points, and if Fermanagh could pull off a shock victory tomorrow, it would leave this group in a three way tie, which scoring difference deciding the top two finishers and with Down shipping 11-24 against Meath victory might not even be enough, and the Division Four Ulster side will be massive underdogs playing against a Division Three team, who seem to have put their early season woes behind them.
TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship Group 1 round 2: Antrim v London (Tomorrow, Musgrave Park, 12.30pm)
ANTRIM need to turn their fortunes around if they are to extend their championship season into August and that starts with victory over London tomorrow.
If they lose to the Exiles the season is over and despite being at home this will be a tough game for the Saffrons against one of the championship favourites.
Antrim lost to Louth, also one of the main contenders for this year’s All-Ireland junior crown, in their first round game while London put nine goals past Kilkenny in a one-sided game. Victory for London will see them go through to the semi-finals, as will victory for Louth over Kilkenny. Should Antrim be able to pull of a shock, they will keep their hopes alive going into the final group round robin game with Kilkenny.
TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship Group 2 round 2: Derry v Limerick (Today, Ballymaguigan, 2pm)
ULSTER champions Derry face a must-win game against Limerick this afternoon in Ballymaguigan If they are to keep ther hopes of back-to-back All-Ireland final appearances alive.
The Oak Leaf girls lost to Carlow in their opening group two round robin game two weeks ago by the narrowest of margins, 2-9 to 1-11. They will have been bitterly disappointed with that result knowing that an equally tough, if not tougher, final game with Limerick lay ahead.
Defeat will signal the end of their summer and their record against Limerick is not the best but Derry are a team that can throw the form book out the window as they showed last year. With Limerick having to travel to south Derry, Paul Crozier’s side need to hit the ground running and too often this year slow starts have been their demise. They were superb against Antrim on their way to a first Ulster title in 10 years and they need to bring that ‘A’ game again.