Monaghan ladies upbeat for crunch clash with Offaly

Antrim and Cavan are in survival mode on a big weekend at intermediate level

Two ladies' gaelic footballers
Maeve Monaghan (right) has full confidence in her Monaghan side ahead of a crucial clash with Offaly. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile (Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ IFC round three (Sunday)

Group 2

Offaly v Monaghan (Glenisk O’Connor Park, 3.30pm)

MONAGHAN captain Maeve Monaghan is confident the Farney side can get the win they need against Offaly to qualify for the knock-out stages.

They travel to Tullamore knowing that Offaly will be thinking exactly the same if they get the performance right against their Ulster opposition.

Heading into this game, just a point separates the sides in scoring difference, Monaghan one better off than Offaly after both sides lost to Clare, who are already through.

Monaghan’s shipping of six goals the last day out, despite outscoring Clare 14 scores to 12, stands out and it is something that they have worked on in the interim according to the captain.

“A loss like that of course is a bitter pill to swallow,’’ she admits.

“We had narrowed the gap a couple of times throughout the game but just not enough. They were extremely strong up front, and they had the ability to make that gap bigger when we got a bit close.

“It was a difficult game, and I suppose our high press is a risky game. We fell short because of taking those risks,” she said.

“It certainly was a game to learn from, we either win or we learn. From their strength up top, we gained powerful insight into our defensive structure and what tweaks are necessary to be made going forward.

“Playing these more experienced teams does help us to gain more practice into our structure and what is expected of us as we play more.”

These sides are pretty unfamiliar with each other when it comes to competitive meetings.

Monaghan play in Division Two and, of course, have that experience as a former senior championship team, although for a lot of their squad, that will not be the case.

Offaly play Division Three, finishing in fourth place this year, and have been an intermediate championship team for the last decade, though last year they needed a relegation play-off win against Longford to save their championship status.

They last reached the knock-out stages in 2019 and will be keen to try and get back there again. Roisin Cockram will lead their scoring charge.

Group 3

Antrim v Wexford (Musgrave Park, 1pm)

ANTRIM need to beat Wexford tomorrow by 13 points if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.

A win by anything less than that margin will not be enough as scoring difference will see them miss out on the last eight and instead, they will face a fight to save their championship status.

Roscommon are already through, their superior scoring difference meaning they are not affected by the outcome of this game, despite finishing on three points. However, they must await the outcome of this one to see if they take top spot – if Wexford lose – or if they have to settle for second place.

Antrim and Wexford met earlier in the league with Wexford winning by the minimum in a game Antrim led for so long and really should have taken something from.

Group 1

Westmeath v Cavan (TEG Cusack Park, 2pm)

CAVAN and Westmeath will battle it out for a quarter-final spot in a winner-takes-all showdown in Mullingar.

Not only is a place in the knockout stages at stake but the winner will also make sure of their intermediate championship status for next season. The loser will face a relegation play-off.

Both sides lost to last year’s All-Ireland junior champions and current Ulster intermediate champions Down over the last two weekends.

As Division Two teams, they have already met this year, with Cavan prevailing by a single point, but it wasn’t enough to see them avoid being relegated while Westmeath finished in fourth place.

Group 4

Wicklow v Leitrim (Roundwood, 2pm)