Hurling & Camogie

Big tests keep coming for Down as they visit Galway

Former Mourne skipper Niamh Mallon could face her native county in Salthill

Niamh Mallon
Former Down forward Niamh Mallon faces her old team-mates this weekend (©INPHO/Evan Treacy/©INPHO/Evan Treacy)

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Group 2, round three (tomorrow, 2pm unless stated)

Group 2

Dublin v Wexford (Parnell Park)

Galway v Down (Pearse Stadium, 1pm)

Clare v Cork (Cusack Park)

THE challenges facing Down don’t get any easier. After losing to Clare in Ennis and then to Cork in Páirc Esler last Saturday, they face an arduous trip to Galway to face a team smarting from conceding two late scores for a draw in Wexford last weekend.

Two years ago they went to Ballinasloe, failed to score in the opening half and ended up losing by 3-23 to 0-6.

Not surprisingly, their then captain Niamh Mallon scored five of their six points. Mallon, of course, will probably be facing her former colleagues, having worn the 13 jersey in Galway’s opening two games.

The other noteworthy statistic is that Down will feature just seven players from the team that started that game two years ago, with retirements and emigration hitting them extremely hard in the interim.

Nevertheless, Paul Donnelly is still getting an honest effort from his team in each of the games that they have played this year. But they still search for their first victory.

Galway, though, are All-Ireland contenders and will not spare their opponents as they attempt to top the group for an automatic semi-final spot.

The other recognised contenders are Cork. They currently top the table with wins over Wexford and Down and are strongly fancied to make it three from three against Clare.

The closest of the three games should be in Parnell Park between Dublin and Wexford. The latter surprised everyone with the feisty challenge they produced for the visit of Galway last weekend – and they got their reward with a late draw.

Meanwhile, Dublin went one better by beating Clare and they gave Galway a decent test on the opening week of games as well.

The pair met in the Division 1B league final when Wexford were the favourites to take the title, but Dubs overturned a defeat at the group stages and condemned them to a second successive final defeat.

The losers of this game will probably see their chances of a place in the knock-out stages go out of their control. It should be a very close contest.

Verdict Comfortable wins for Cork and Galway. A draw would suit Wexford in the other game, but they mightn’t make it.