Hurling & Camogie

Camogie, Handball and Donegal Hurling final previews


The Elk Complex Derry Senior Championship Final: Saturday October 3 2020: 3.30pm in Bellaghy

Slaughtneil v Swatragh

OVER the past four seasons Slaughtneil had won four Derry, four Ulster and three All-Ireland titles before they lost to Sarsfield’s in last March’s All-Ireland club final, the Galway side scoring a late goal to snatch a single point victory, writes Seamas McAleenan.

Only once in that brilliant run had they been taken to a replay (by Loughgiel in the 2016 Ulster final) and only once to extra time (by Kilkenny and Leinster champions Thomastown in the 2018 All-Ireland semi). Swatragh took them to extra time and then Slaughtneil ground out a replay in last Saturday’s thrilling Derry senior final at Bellaghy.

The sides are back to the same venue this afternoon where the champions are hoping that they again can avail of the second chance as they did in 2016 and 2018 and in the process collect a sixth successive Derry title.

Naturally there will have been a few “what ifs” over the past few days, like what if both teams had been clear of injuries?

The McNicholl sisters have carried injuries all season, but both fielded for Swatragh and delivered 1-5 between them although Gráinne’s goal and two points all came during the first quarter and after that she couldn’t exercise her normal influence on the game.

Tina Bradley had only played the last 15 minutes of the semi-final against Ballinascreen apparently suffering from a back injury. She didn’t start for Slaughtneil and despite an injury removing captain Gráinne Ní Chatháin as early as the sixth minute and three further substitutes being called into action, the Offaly native didn’t participate at all in the final.

Swatragh played well and they prevented Shannon Graham from grabbing her usual quota of two or three points with surging runs from midfield. Graham though made a huge impact during the second quarter when Slaughtneil came from 1-3 to 0-1 down to lead 0-10 to 1-4 at the break.

But others rose to the scoring challenge with Céat McEldowney and Sinéad Mellon a big support to free-taker Louise Dougan, who once again in superb form, and probably the key player for Slaughtneil even though sub Carla McEldowney grabbed the late, late goal to snatch victory.

Swatragh have proven that they are capable enough of relieving their neighbours of the Martin Mulholland Cup, perhaps a little fine tuning in a few areas all that is required for a job that looked done up until the last seconds.

But the champions will no doubt redouble their efforts now that they are red alert regarding the threat.

Could it be that if either or both Gráinne Ní Chatháin and Tina Bradley take their place in the starting line up for the replay, the pendulum will swing in favour of Slaughtneil; their game management skills and experience have stood out over the past five seasons.

On the other hand, could the Davitt’s raise their game still higher knowing that they came within a whisker of pulling off a huge shock.

There have been a number of landmark victories for underdogs across the country in all codes in 2020. Hunger has trumped teams chasing successive titles. Surely it could not happen in Derry camogie!

Ulster Club Championship fixtures

Junior Club Saturday 1pm

Crosserlough (Cavan) v Tír na nÓg (Antrim)

Junior B Semi Finals

Sunday 2pm

Naomh Treasa Dungannon (Tyrone) v St Mary’s Aghagallon (Armagh)

Lacken (Cavan) v Clontibret (Monaghan)

Bridie McMenamin Shield quarter finals

Sunday 2pm

Éire Óg an Charraig Mhór (Tyrone) v Creggan (Antrim)

St Mochua’s Derrynoose (Armagh) v Castleblayney (Monaghan)

Magherafelt (Derry) v Crosserlough (Cavan)

THE Ulster club camogie championship get under way over the weekend with games in three grades to be decided.

At Junior level there are five teams participating which means that there is only one preliminary round fixture – between Crosserlough and newly-crowned Antrim champions Tír na nÓg.

Both teams were in action last weekend with Crosserlough claiming a sixth successive Cavan title and Tír na nÓg adding the Division Two league title to the championship crown won the previous weekend after a replay with Rossa.

Crosserlough swept Denn aside in the Cavan final and are showing the form that won them back to back provincial titles in 2017/18.

Tír na nÓg are on a roll however and they will push them close.

In the Junior B semis we have 2018 champions Clontibret taking on Lacken from Cavan while Naomh Treasa will hope they can keep the Dungannon flags flying when they take on St Mary’s Aghagallon who will be representing Armagh.

I thing Roisin McErlain can inspire another Naomh Treasa victory while the McSkeanes, Kate Carragher and Marie Greenan can take Clontibret into a third successive decider.

Antrim teams have tended to do well in the Bridie McMenamin Shield in recent years which probably means that the scoring power of 16 year old Evanne Martin could inspire Creggan to victory over Carrickmore’s Éire Óg, winners of the Tyrone title last weekend.

Derrynoose could win the Oiriall derby with Castleblaney while Magherafelt should have too much for a Crosserlough side that was shock winners in Cavan with Cara O’Reilly bagging 2-3 from their 3-6 to 0-11 win over Drumgoon.


Donegal Senior Hurling Championship Final: Setanta v St Eunan's 

In terms of sheer potential firepower, Setanta currently have a truly awesome forward line, writes Gerry McLaughlin.

It is certainly the greatest strike force of any club in the county, and, would indeed, rival many previous Donegal county sides.

Bernard Lafferty, Declan Coulter, Gerard Gilmore, Marc Devine, Davin Flynn and Kevin Campbell (he came on as a sub the last day, such is the strength of their squad) are as good as it gets.

But they are backboned by their elegant general Danny Cullen who presides at centre back with Niall Cleary a fine stickman at wing back.

Coulter is their ace marksman, while Flynn is arguably their most gifted having previously played for Tipperary Intermediate hurlers.

In a remarkable record, Armagh, Tipperary, Tyrone, Galway and Offaly are the birthplaces of five o this talented squad but that does not overshadow some great home talent as well.

They are faced by a pacey, athletic and focused St Eunan’s who seem to be improving with every year.

The Letterkenny lads are backboned by dual players like Sean McVeigh, the brilliant Brian McIntyre, Conor Parke, Conor O’Grady, Kevin Kealy and Sean Halvey.

This is a side that is growing in confidence and were very unlucky to lose to the Antrim champions in last autumn’s Ulster Club Junior Hurling Championship.

They have awesome pace and, should they be able to play, two potential match-winners in the multi-talented Niall and Conor O’Donnell.

So, who will win this county final?

It is very hard to look past Setanta, especially that stellar strike force.

And they have emerging young talent like Ruairi Campbell and a fine underage structure.

If Eunan’s can curb this sextet to a reasonable degree, then we could have quite a tussle on our hands.

But they will also need to take all their chances up front, have the two afore-mentioned O’Donnell’s on board, something they have not done in recent tussles with Setanta.

So, Setanta to prevail, and it could be by quite some margin if the big six strike form.


Martin Mulkerrins has a fine selection of medals stacked away but there is a valuable one missing, writes Tony McGee.

He doesn't have an All-Ireland 60x30 senior championship award. However, he aims to fill the gap today at Crinkle as he clashes with Robbie McCarthy for the title.

Galwegian Mulkerrins is, probably, better known as a small court player and it may be forgotten that he also excelled on the big alley in the past. He won two All-Ireland minor medals and an intermediate one at that level so a senior victory today would complete the collection.

McCarthy has already tasted success on the 60x30 court and is now striving to regain the All-Ireland Softball crown after losing in the final last year to Eoin Kennedy, who is missing from the competition this season because of injury.

Mulkerrins plays on all three handball courts. “I suppose, the traditional small court was more my game since we didn’t have a 60x30 court in Moycullen and it was a case of travelling over 100 miles to get a game on the big court but we now have a state-of-the-art 60x30 court here and I enjoy the Softball game.

“I'm looking forward very much to my first 60x40 All-Ireland final. I have played only once against Robbie on the big alley but we have met many times on the small court.

“I'm feeling pretty good about my game just now and it would be super to win the title but we will have to see how it goes. I have been improving with every game.”

It is difficult to read this decider. McCarthy would probably be favourite but favourites have fallen many times in the past.

Having three finalists in action on today's programme at Crinkle proves that Kilkenny handball is keeping pace with the Noreside hurlers. A Kilkenny treble may not be short-priced but upsets are not uncommon.

No doubt, Martina McMahon is odds-on to collect the Ladies' crown as she clashes with Ciara Mahon but the latter is not in the final without hope of causing an upset. The former Leinster champion, also a noted hockey player and a Dublin-based PhD student, collected a super win in last Saturday’s semi-final over Westmeath’s Aoife McCarthy, who had recorded a stunning upset against Catriona Casey of Cork.

Mahon has faced trouble at times in the championship to date and coming through difficult matches against quality opponents has given her confidence and belief ahead of the biggest singles match of her career.

“It has been an interesting Championship for sure and shows that anything can happen on a day,” the Clogh player comments. “I have had a lot of challenging games in this championship, narrowly overcoming Pauline Gallagher in the quarter-final and then overcoming Aoife in a tough game in the semi-final.

“Both of those experiences I feel have helped me become more confident in my game. I am very much looking forward to playing Martina and I am not fazed by my underdog status.”

The final may show a clash of styles as McMahon is a shooter while Mahon's game is persistence and chasing down every ball. She is quite comfortable on the big court.

It could be a Kilkenny minor double as Noelle Dowling wears the black and amber tag in the girls' decider against Clare's Chloe Philpott while Billy Drennan, no stranger to the limelight, faces Tipp's Rory Grace in the boys' final. Softball Singles Championship at Crinkle

Today - Ladies' Minor Final (12.00): Clare (Chloe Philpott) v Kilkenny (Noelle Dowling).

Boys' Minor Final (1.00): Tipperary (Rory Grace) v Kilkenny (Billy Drennan).

Men’s Senior Final (2.00): Westmeath (R McCarthy) v Galway (M Mulkerrins).

Ladies' Senior Final (3.00): Limerick (M McMahon) v Kilkenny (C Mahon).