Derrygonnelly and Castleblayney target All-Ireland final places

Brenda Bannon will provide a scoring threat for Derrygonnelly as they go after a place in the All-Ireland Club IFC decider this weekend Picture by Sportsfile
Louise Gunn

current All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final

Mullinahone (Tipperary) v Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh) (Sunday, John Lockes GAA Park, Callan, Kilkenny, 1.30pm)

ULSTER champions Derrygonnelly are on their travels again this weekend in pursuit of All-Ireland glory.

A week after overcoming All-Britain winners Round Towers, London in Ruislip, they go to Kilkenny to take on Tipperary and Munster champions Mullinahone.

The stakes are high and both sides will head into Sunday's showdown equally confident they can come away with victory.

Derrygonnelly have the advantage of having played last weekend, but this is a quick turnaround for Garry Smith's side.

Mullinahone were a junior team last year and went all the way to the All-Ireland final, only to lose out to St Jude's Dublin.

By securing the Munster intermediate title earlier this month they will now move up to the senior ranks of club football for 2023 – impressive progress in just three years.

Lorraine O'Shea appears to be player to stop if Derrygonnelly are to overcome their opponents. She scored all but one score of their 2-4 total in their provincial final win over Limerick's Monagea.

A vital cog in the Mullinahone team, she is the outlet for clearances from defence, holding up the ball as they launch attacks while her scoring is mostly from frees.

Her sister Aoibhe O'Shea is another player who Derrygonnelly will need to keep an eye on, while goalkeeper Alice Browning is their penalty-taker, she fired home from the penalty spot at her opposite end. She is also an ace shot-stopper, saving a penalty in the Tipperary county final.

Somewhat worryingly for Mullinahone is their dependancy on scores from the dead ball – they only scored once from play in the Munster final – and Derrygonnelly need to make sure they do not give away frees inside the scoring zone.

It could come down to a shoot-out between Derrygonnelly's Eimear Smyth and Mullinahone's Lorraine O'Shea.

Smyth has scored 2-9 in her last two games for the Harps. Those scores have not all come from the placed ball, unlike most of O'Shea's while Derrygonnelly can also look to Bronagh Smyth, Brenda Bannon and Sarah Jane Jones for scores. That could prove crucial as they look to book their place in a first All-Ireland club final.

The other semi-final between Longford Slashers (Longford) and Charlestown (Mayo) also takes place on Sunday at 1.30pm.

current All-Ireland Club JFC semi-final

Naomh Aban (Cork) v Castleblayney (Monaghan) (Sunday, Pairc Iosagain, Naomh Aban, 1.30pm)

THE fairytale continues for Monaghan and Ulster champions Castleblayney Faughs as they travel to Cork for an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Naomh Aban.

It is yet another weekend on the road for the Monaghan side having returned from Maastrichts in Holland just last weekend, where they produced a superb second-half performance to see off Belgium GAA in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

The distance to travel might not be as far this week but it will still be a five hour one-way journey.

It will also be another step up in opposition against a club that won the All-Ireland intermediate title in 2003.

Among Naomh Aban's players to watch are Muireann Dineen at full-back and Amy McDonagh at midfield. Forwards Lydia McDonagh and Grace Murphy, were their only scorers in the 0-7 to 0-5 Munster final win over Limerick side Oola earlier this month.

'Blayney have shown they are capable of going all the way in this competition and have been impressive so far. They will certainly not underestimate their opponents but they will be confident they are as good, if not better than them, as they aim to reach a first All-Ireland final.

Jodie McQuillan is 'Blayney's main scoring threat, and Naomh Aban will know that, but they will also have noted players like teenager Hazel Hughes, who scored 1-3 in their win over Belgium GAA.

It will all come down to the day, who deals with whatever the weather may bring best, who deals with the nerves better and who takes their chances.

The other semi-final also takes place on Sunday and sees Salthill-Knocknacarra (Galway) take on O'Dwyers (Dublin) (1.30pm).