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Down out to make the most of return to Headquarters

Down's camogs could be without Castlewellan pair Aoife Keown (pictured) and Caitriona Caldwell due to their involvement with the county's senior footballers who are in National League semi-final action
Paul McConville

Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division One: Dublin v Down (Sunday, Croke Park, 1.45pm)

IT is 11 years since a Dublin camogie team played in Croke Park. Down were there in 2018 but lost the intermediate final to Cork. Both will welcome this trip to Jones Road for the opening match of a double-header with Dublin and Donegal senior footballers in Division One on Sunday.

However, if things go to plan elsewhere, it will matter little who wins their rare appearance at Headquarters.

Down's victory over Offaly last weekend means that Offaly must now beat All-Ireland champions Galway to put Down in relegation trouble. That seems very unlikely, but if Galway have a comfortable win over Tipperary in Ballinasloe tomorrow, they will not need to win that Offaly match and could then experiment with their team. That could jeopardise Down's position.

However, Down could solve the problem by beating the Dubs in Croke Park. Even a draw could take both Dublin and Down clear of Offaly's best efforts next week.

There is, however, a clash with Ladies' Football on Sunday afternoon and Castlewellan pair Aoife Keown and Caitriona Caldwell are scheduled to line out for the county football team in a Division Three semi-final against Wexford.

Efforts were being made midweek to avoid a clash but at time of writing Down will be without the pair who played well last Saturday against Offaly.

Galway are favourites to win tomorrow's game and therefore contest the league final with Cork. They have had the upper-hand on Tipperary for more than a decade now.

Tipperary have only once qualified for the final since 2009 and unfortunately for them that came two seasons ago. Covid ensured that they didn't get the chance to play that decider. The current form book suggests wins for Galway and Tipperary.

Division Two

ANTRIM, Waterford and Wexford have all topped their groups in Division Two while Galway and Tipperary have secured second place in their respective groups. That means that the only issue to be sorted is who qualifies along with Wexford from Group One.

Both Meath and Cork won last weekend, Meath beating Kildare by eight points while Cork struggled to a two points' win over Derry. However Cork, with a superior score difference, need only a draw in Páirc Táilteann to make the quarter-finals.

With home advantage, Meath stand a good chance of making the cut, but it is now knock-out camogie and they need to be as ruthless as they were last August against Derry in the Intermediate championship.

In the other group game, it would be very unlikely that Wexford would lose to Kildare, even if they experiment with their lineout, while Laois v Kerry could go either way.

Division Three

CAVAN are in control of their group in Division Three after picking up a third successive victory in Stradone last weekend against visiting Antrim.

They beat Roscommon quite easily but the other games against Antrim and Armagh were narrow victories where the Keenaghan and Fitzsimons sisters had to dig in and pick off the key scores at the end.

Cavan have another home game this weekend against Carlow who are pointless after games against Armagh and Dublin. Carlow lost both those games by wide margins and that should mean the Breffni women should leave themselves in control of their own destiny against Dublin in the final group game next weekend.

Both Antrim and Armagh will be disappointed with the outcome of last week's games. Antrim led by 0-8 to 0-4 early in the second half against Cavan, but only scored another point, eventually losing by two. Armagh conceded an injury time free that resulted in an equaliser when they looked to have beaten Dublin.

The all-Ulster clash at Dunsilly will therefore be about redemption. Armagh are the more experienced team, but Antrim are a team gaining in confidence with each outing. This should be another close encounter.

Last year's winners Wexford are on course to retain their title with two big wins in the other group. Therefore the Limerick v Down game is merely of academic interest.

Both lost heavily in their last outing, but Limerick at home should have an advantage over Declan Burns' Down side.

Division Four

NOT many games have actually taken place in this division and there is still time for Tyrone to make up for defeat to Wicklow in the opening game.

The Derrytresk players of course were not available that day, as they had an All-Ireland club semi-final the same day. They are back in the fold now and that should strengthen the Red Hands.

However Mayo have been improving at this level in each of the last three seasons. They have beaten Tyrone before and could do so again. Wicklow should pick up a second victory in the other game.

FIXTURES

Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League

Division One

Saturday

(Ballinsloe, 2pm): Galway v Tipperary

Sunday

(Croke Park, 1.45pm): Dublin v Down

Division Two

Saturday

(Shelmalier's, 2pm): Wexford v Kildare

(Portlaoise, 2pm): Laois v Kerry

Páirc Tailteann, 3pm): Meath v Cork

Division Three

Saturday

(Elphin, 2pm): Limerick v Down

(Dunsilly, 2pm): Antrim v Armagh

(Kingspan Breffni, 3.30pm): Cavan v Carlow

Division Four

Saturday

(Darver, 2pm): Louth v Wicklow

(Toreen, 2pm): Mayo v Tyrone

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