Hurling and camogie

Tight tussles predicted for Antrim, Down and Derry camogs

Séamas McAleenan

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Championship: Saturday 2pm at Inniskeen: Antrim v Meath

BOTH Antrim and Meath are guaranteed another game; this one sorts out which of them will be fast-tracked into the semis with a win and the loser will play again next weekend.

Antrim looked a bit rusty at times a fortnight ago against Carlow, but not over the first 25 minutes by which point they held a 3-7 to 0-3 lead.

That the Saffrons ended up with just four points to spare over the mid-landers tells its own tale. They created plenty of chances, but just didn't finish them while other moves broke down with some unforced errors before a shot could be landed on target.

After the game joint-manager Jim McKernan focussed on the positives; they had got a game under their belts and it had ended in a win and there is some merit in looking at things that way.

However the concession of four goals was not good with players allowed to get in behind the cover. Admittedly Antrim had to reshuffle with two players not travelling and that meant that Nicole O'Neill, their most dangerous attacker in the opening half, was withdrawn to midfield after the break.

Meath were comfortable enough in their win over Kerry last weekend. They have spent a couple of seasons in senior camogie and will bring that experience to their Intermediate challenge this time around.

However Antrim's attack is potent enough and, if they get it together, Meath could be under pressure.

Verdict: It might go to extra time.

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Championship: Saturday 2pm at Ashbourne: Down v Laois

Another game with both teams assured of knock-out camogie over the next few weeks, but the fortnight until the semis allows the winners an opportunity to get over any niggles and get more preparation done.

It is of little significance that Down manager Derek Dunne is a Laois native. His involvement in camogie has mainly been with Down – and their performance against Derry in the Round One suggested that his charges are looking pretty good at the moment.

Defence was solid in all positions with the centre spine of Dearbhla Magee and Karen McMullan very dominant. Aoife Keown has returned to midfield and that has been a bonus while the placing of veteran Catherine McGourty in goals is now the launch pad for attacks.

The Down attack used to be all about Niamh Mallon and Sara Louise Graffin, After an initial burst of 1-3 from Mallon in the first quarter against Derry, both were well marked, but the rest of the attack rose to the occasion including players coming off the bench.

Laois are hit or miss. They have taken good teams out of contention in the past, including Derry and they almost unseated Down two seasons ago.

I doubt however that they can work with Down if the Mourne girls continue in the mode of the Derry game.

Verdict: Down with a little to spare

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Championship: Saturday:

2pm: Templeport, Cavan: Derry v Kildare

3pm: Carlow IT: Carlow v Kerry

IT IS last chance saloon for these four teams who all lost their first round games; they must win today to reach the quarter-finals next weekend.

On paper Derry had a good team out against Down, but lost out in physical strength and team-work. There were however several goal chances created that could well have changed the game.

This is an ideal game to re-group as Kildare would look to be a team struggling at this level over the past few years.

Should Derry get on top early in the game, they could well build confidence and make life very difficult for whoever they meet the following week.

Carlow v Kerry could be very interesting as both showed glimpses of potential in their first round games. Carlow have a couple of strong forwards such as Ciara Quirke, Eibhe Lawler and Catherine Kavanagh who can make life difficult for any defender.

Meanwhile Kerry struggle for scores apart from midfielder Patricia Diggins.

Verdict: Wins for Carlow and Derry.

Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship

Saturday 2pm

Enniscorthy: Wexford v Offaly

Pearse Stadium: Galway v Cork

Sunday 2pm

Nowlan Park: Kilkenny v Limerick

Cusack Park: Westmeath v Waterford

ONLY two games really count in this weekend's senior championship: this (SATURDAY) afternoon's top of Group One clash in Pearse Stadium and tomorrow's Westmeath v Waterford game in Cusack Park that will sort runners-up in Group Two.

Galway, the reigning champions, are at home to Cork and they will really want to beat the visitors not only to secure an automatic semi-final date in three weeks' time but also to leave down a clear marker against a county that is always in the running for the title.

A win for either provides an easier route to the final and Galway have a real chance if they win this group game.

Wexford should beat Offaly in the other game in this group, but both are already out of the championship.

In Group Two Kilkenny are already in a semi-final on November 28th and it would be a huge shock if they did not hit a good score against Limerick.

Westmeath caused the shock of the competition so far, by beating Limerick in their very first senior championship game ever.

Waterford also beat Limerick and they ran Kilkenny a lot closer than Westmeath did. The Decies are around four years further down the road than last year's Intermediate champions and have plenty of under-age talent coming through. I go for a Waterford win on Sunday.

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Hurling and camogie