Hurling and camogie

Slaughtneil camogie team handed “toughest” opener to Derry senior championship defence

Slaughtneil celebrate joint manager Damien McEldowney after winning the Derry Senior Camogie final, beating Ballinascreen at Glen on October 1 2017. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Séamas McAleenan

It's less than three weeks since they sealed they second All-Ireland senior club title on the trot and the Slaughtneil camogie team have been handed their “toughest” opener to the Walsh's Hotel Derry senior championship defence.

That is how team manager Damian McEldowney described facing Ballinascreen, the team they defeated in the last two finals doubling their Derry senior title haul in the process.

The quarter-finals are down for the second week of September but McEldowney knows what is ahead, which was set to begin last night with their first competitive game since retaining their All-Ireland (v Castledawson at the Broagh).

“I know it is a good bit away, but the ‘Screen have put a fierce amount of work into underage camogie in recent years and they are a real handful at senior level.

“We will need to be ready for them when it comes around.”

Winning back-to-back national titles has taken its toll on both the players and management team and Slaughtneil are hoping to give the players some time off as the club season gets under way in Derry.

“The postponements and games were very mentally draining for us all, players and management.

“All of us need to step back for a while. There was almost five months between the Ulster final and when the All-Ireland was finally played and I would be very much in favour of finishing the competition in the calendar year,” added the building contractor.

“We have been lucky to get the commitment we have from this group of players, but the present time-frame carrying games into a new year is just too great.

“The sport is amateur and the girls have to live their lives too. It takes huge discipline to do what we have done over Christmas and through January these past couple of years when everyone else gets down time.

“It is very hard to sustain that level of commitment and discipline over a period of years. If the All-Ireland series finishes before Christmas, the teams involved can get a proper break and come back refreshed. It makes sense.”

Eoghan Rua Coleraine, who won the other four Derry titles this decade, have drawn last season's Intermediate champions Ballinderry with the winners facing either Swatragh or Castledawson in the semi-final.

The winners from the Ballinscreen v Slaughtneil tie will pair up with the winners from Lavey v Newbridge in the semi-finals.

Coincidentally Ballinascreen and Slaughtneil have been paired in the Intermediate championship as well with the winner facing either Bellaghy, who dropped down from the senior championship, or last year's beaten Intermediate finalist Dungiven.

Walsh's Hotel Derry Senior Championship Draw

Quarter-finals: September 13 to 16

1 Ballinderry v Eoghan Rua

2 Castledawson v Swatragh

3 Ballinascreen v Slaughtneil

4 Newbridge v Lavey

Semi-finals: September 22/23

4 v 3 and 2 v 1

Final: September 30

Glenshane Coach Hire Inter. Championship Draw

Quarter-finals: September 13 to 16

1 Dungiven v Bellaghy

2 Kilrea v Glen

3 Slaughtneil 11 v Ballinascreen 11

4 Greenlough v Banagher

Semi-finals: September 22/23

3 v 1

4 v 2

Final: September 30

Credit Union Junior Championship Draw

Quarter-finals: August 10/11

1 Glenullin v Drum

2 Magherafelt v Loup

3 Na Magha v Drumsurn

4 Ballerin v Lavey 11

Semi-final: August 16/17

3 v 1 and 4 v 2

Final: August 24

Littlewoods Ireland National League Division 2, Section 2

Sunday (venue and Time TBC): Armagh v Laois

This is a Round 4 game that fell victim to the weather. Had it been played as scheduled last month, then Laois could well have won easily as they were coming off two straight wins including a strong showing away to Derry the previous week.

Since then Laois have suffered three defeats in a row, although none of them have been heavy and they have nothing to gain from this fixture.

Neither indeed have Armagh, who have played very well for a half in each of the last two games. The second half against Kildare was good enough to win the points, but they couldn't back up a good first half away to Dublin last weekend with scores to keep in touch and went down 10 points in the end.

Both Laois and Armagh may choose to give their subs some game time and that makes the match a little less predictable, although both will hope for a small pre-championship boost.

Kilkenny 6 5 1 0 115 62 53 16

Dublin 6 4 2 0 95 64 31 14

Tipperary 6 4 0 2 83 63 20 12

Derry 6 2 1 3 97 88 9 7

Laois 5 2 0 3 65 65 0 6

Armagh 5 1 0 4 65 107 -42 3

Kildare 6 0 0 6 62 132 -70 0

Round 1 : Tipperary 0-10, Dublin 1-8, Laois 2-11, Kildare 1-7, Derry 2-19, Armagh 2-6

Round 2 : Kildare 1-4 Dublin 3-12, Armagh 1-13, Tipperary 3-14, Kilkenny 3-11 Derry 2-7

Round 3 : Tipperary 2-13, Kildare 0-7, Dublin 1-8, Kilkenny 0-11, Derry 2-9 Laois 4-5

Round 4 : Kilkenny 7-11 Kildare 2-3, Tipperary 0-9 Derry 0-1

Round 5 : Armagh 0-6 Kilkenny 1-17, Derry 1-14 Dublin 2-11, Laois 2-6 Tipperary 1-10

Round 6 : Dublin 1-8 Laois 0-5, Kildare 2-9, Armagh 1-14, Kilkenny 2-10 Tipperary 0-9

Round 7 : Kildare 1-11 Derry 3-17, Dublin 3-15 Armagh 2-8, Laois 3-5 Kilkenny 2-10

Littlewoods Ireland National League Division 3 final :

Sunday 2pm Kilmallock : Kerry v Roscommon

When this pair met in the last round of league fixtures a fortnight ago, they shared a 0-7 each draw.

Roscommon had the better score-difference and went straight into the final, while Kerry beat Clare 1-11 to 0-4 in a semi-final last weekend.

It will be interesting to see if the extra game has brought on Kerry enough for them to win the final.

All-Ireland Minor A championship semi-finals :

Saturday April 14 (2.30pm)

Kilmallock: Clare v Cork

Banagher: Galway v Tipperary

Cork were already qualified for the semi-finals before they lost to Wexford in the final round, when they ran their panel for experience.

It is an amazing statistic that this is the only A grade competition that Cork have not won – an Under 18 national competition has been running just 12 seasons.

Clare lost last year's final to Galway and that was the fourth final the Banner have lost. About half the team have experience from last season, but it would still be a surprise if they prevented Cork reaching their fourth final.

Tipperary topped their league qualifying section and that will give them a good platform in meeting Galway the holders, who have been lucky enough to squeeze through after defeats to Kilkenny and Cork.

Really anything could happen in these games. Would be great to see a Clare v Tipperary final – but I doubt that will happen.

All-Ireland Minor B championship

Saturday April 14 (2.30pm) in Kilcoo: Down v Meath

If Down win this game, they will play Kildare in the Shield final. If Meath win, they will have to play their remaining league game with Roscommon and see what happens. Same scenario with a draw.

The situation is really in Down's hands after they survived a late comeback from Roscommon last weekend to win by a point.

Judging by the score-lines coming through from earlier in the league, Meath look to be more solid than Down in defence. However the win should have boosted the Ulster side and, coupled with home advantage, they could well reach the decider.

Ulster minor semi-final: Monday April 16: Antrim v Derry

When these two teams met two years ago at under 16 level, extra time was needed in the final to separate them with Antrim emerging narrow victors.

That won't be the case in this semi-final though after the Saffrons scored a thumping 4-18 to 0-3

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