Hurling & Camogie

Beating Limerick can secure senior status for Derry camogs

The Oak Leaf side have already beaten Antrim in the All-Ireland series

Derry’s Leah Lennon
Derry’s Leah Lennon tries to slip Jean Kelly of Tipperary during last week’s clash in Owenbeg. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOGRAPHY )

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Group 1, round three

(Saturday, 2pm unless stated)

Derry v Limerick (Owenbeg)

Kilkenny v Waterford (UPMC Nowlan Park, 3pm)

Tipperary v Antrim (The Ragg)

SHOULD Derry beat Limerick in Owenbeg, they will have guaranteed participation in next season’s All-Ireland senior championship and can approach the remaining two group games, trips to Kilkenny and Waterford, with a free spirit.

When the draws were made back in the early spring, most people would have looked at Derry, Limerick and Antrim as the three teams who would be battling it out at the foot of the table with Kilkenny, Waterford and Tipperary in contention for the places in the knock-out stages.

After two rounds of games, that still holds, with Derry’s win over Antrim in Cushendall the only game that perhaps went against expectation.

It was a victory that lifted a certain amount of pressure from Derry and at the same time raised expectation among their supporters.

Their performance that day was very good and they fully deserved the win. Last Saturday against Tipperary they maintained that intensity and scored 13 points against a team who were very pacey and had a much sharper touch.

The Tipperary test taught them that they need to be operating at full pace and that they will be severely punished for making any type of mistake.

Limerick have come through two of those tough games and shipped equally heavy defeats. They managed just four points against 1-19 from Kilkenny in the first weekend of competition and then shipped a 5-15 to 0-9 defeat to Waterford last Saturday in Walsh Park.

They haven’t played Derry in recent years but lost by a few points to Antrim on a very cold league Saturday in March in Ballycastle.

Just two years ago, however, Limerick reached the championship quarter-finals by beating Antrim in Corrigan Park in the last group game.

They play quite a physical robust game, with Rebecca Delee and Caoimhe Lyons the players to watch up front. Caoimhe Costello used to be in that bracket, but has lost some of her pace – although she still remains a threat from the dead-ball.

Derry’s defence has been pretty disciplined to date with just five points conceded to Tipperary from frees and three to Antrim. It’s at the other end of the field that the game can be won or lost by Derry.

The Oak Leaf attack has impressed over the past couple of weeks – yes, even for periods against Tipperary. The half-forwards need to continue to take players on and break the line, while they will have learned from the Tipp game that constant movement is necessary in the inside forwards.

Limerick, though, may make it a little more difficult by playing a sweeper and that will test how well Derry can adapt and improvise.

However, home venue offers a great chance for them to outscore their opponents and put the pressure firmly on the last group game between Limerick and Antrim.

The other game that will go to the wire and have repercussions on the final table is in UMPC Nowlan Park, where Waterford are the visitors.

The Déise were a bit unlucky that they didn’t beat Tipperary in round one. They led for a good part of that game and then shipped a red card when the teams were tied going down the home straight. Since then they dismissed the challenge from Limerick by scoring 5-15.

Although Kilkenny looked sharp enough in spells against Antrim, they are not as clinical as the side that won the title two years ago.

The last game looks easy enough to call having seen both Tipperary and Antrim in action against Derry over the past two weekends. Tipperary are All-Ireland contenders, while Antrim are still trying to recover ground lost over the winter.

Verdict Wins for Derry, Waterford and Tipperary.