Saffrons have enough to edge semi-final final clash with the Royals

Loughgiel's Ciara Laverty should retain her place in the Antrim team for Saturday's league semi-final against Meath Picture: Seamus Loughran.
By Seamas McAleenan

Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division Two semi-finals: Antrim v Meath (tomorrow, Inniskeen, 2pm)

ANTRIM overcame Meath by 1-16 to 2-9 in the group stages of the All-Ireland Intermediate championship last November. At the time this registered as a bit of a shock in the competition as Meath had just come down after a few years in the senior championship and were expected to do well at intermediate level.

Despite losing to Westmeath in this year's league, the Royals still managed to top their group on scoring difference and then they scored a dramatic injury time goal last Saturday to knock out Kilkenny in the quarter-finals.

The line-out is remarkably similar to the one that faced Antrim more than six months ago – even the scorers are quite similar. Jane Dolan hit six points in November and 1-3 at the weekend while Megan Thynne was a goal-scorer in both games. That said, the same players were scoring for Antrim in both games.

Antrim though have five new faces in their team for this semi-final, some of them are forced after injuries over the past two games to Chloe Drain and Maeve Connolly while others were not involved last autumn but came on board this season.

The Saffrons have shown a certain resilience in two of their three games this term. Against both Down and Galway they had to withstand an early onslaught just to get a foothold in the game. Once that was achieved they went in front and were good at defending that lead.

In each game they lost a key defender inside the first quarter and that was a huge test against Galway in particular as they were already down two defenders from the comfortable win they achieved over Derry the week before.

It's looking unlikely that Chloe Drain and Maeve Connolly will be fit for this semi-final and it is doubtful they will make it in time for the final should Antrim make it through. Maria Lynn however should be available to resume at corner-back while the two players who came in last week, Laoise McKenna and Ciara Laverty, will probably keep starting jerseys.

Meath have a number of decent players – Maeve Clinch and Tracey King in defence, the midfield pairing of Aedin Slattery and captain Kristina Troy as well as Thynne and Dolan up front – and these will all have to be closely watched.

However in Down and Galway, Antrim have beaten better teams in recent games. Compared to last November which really was in the early stages of the McKillen/McKernan reign, they are a more organised team with a defined game-plan and they have also come together well as a team unit.

An undefeated run is also a confidence boost. Antrim will probably be favourites and deservedly so. Meath carry a threat and can exploit any weaknesses, but the Saffron have enough to edge it.

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