Hurling and camogie

Ulster will bring their talent to the top table for provincials

Down's Catherine McGourty will captain Ulster in Sunday's Gael Linn competition
Niamh Archibald

Sunday will see some of Ulster’s finest compete in the inter-provincials. Seán Paul McKillop will manage the side, assisted by Micheal Murphy (Armagh), John Carson (Antrim) and Pádraig Groogan (Derry).

McKillop's charges will take on the might of Leinster in their semi-final at 12.45pm.

Some household names of Ulster Camogie will be backboning this current crop of players. Down’s Catherine McGourty resumes her captaincy of the squad from last season, while fellow All-Ireland winners Sara Lousie Carr and Niamh Mallon will provide a real scoring threat for the side. Armagh’s Ciara Donnelly will prove a handful in the middle of the park, while Loughgiel and Antrim defender Emma Connolly will provide solidity at the back for Ulster. She is joined in the squad by the up and coming Rachel Merry of Armagh

McKillop is pleased with the manner in which his side have prepared for Sunday, saying: “Preparations have gone exceptionally well. The players have really shown a great appetite and desire for this competition.

"We’ve had several training sessions, which also included playing challenge games against Derry and Antrim senior teams. The effort, commitment and dedication has been exceptional so far and the performances in the two challenge matches were very encouraging, with a draw and a win. Hopefully, the team can replicate the performances of the friendly matches with a performance this Sunday that shows the quality that is within the squad.

"We are delighted with the personnel we have on board," McKillop added.

"When players were contacted to ascertain if they could commit to the trainings, the vast majority of them couldn’t wait to get started. The feedback was very positive, which is an indication of the desire and appeal that representing your province has.

"This year, it’s the junior Gael Linn, so we are only allowed five players from the intermediate competing counties, with the rest of the squad coming from the junior teams within the province. The quality in some of the junior counties is quite phenomenal, with players like Ciara Donnelly, Bernie Murray and Niamh Gavin, who could play for any county team in Ireland.

"Catherine McGourty is our captain. She is a fantastic leader and has total respect from her team-mates. She hopes to lead this team to success. We are under no illusions about the quality of the Leinster team but, with talented forwards like Niamh Mallon, Sara Louise Carr and Róisín O’Keefe, Ulster have plenty of attacking options and scoring threat.

"The squad and management team are very grateful for the support coming from Ulster Council, the assistance they have given us in our preparation and also the sponsorship received from NWP Recycling and PMA Contracts is very much appreciated," he added.

FIXTURES

(Sunday, Rathleague, Port Laoise)

Gael Linn semi-finals (12.15pm): Munster v Connacht; (12.45pm): Ulster v Leinster; Gael Linn final (2:30pm)

Hurling and camogie

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