Time is now for Antrim camogs to make big progress
Camogie: All-Ireland Intermediate Championship: Antrim v Kilkenny (Sunday, Dunloy, 2pm)
ANTRIM were one of the seeded teams for the championship draw last month and they are strongly tipped to feature at the knock-out stage for the first time in quite a few years.
The Saffrons have done little wrong since the new management team of Paul McKillen, Jim McKernan and Elaine Dowds came in at the start of last year. Indeed since then only one team, Down, has beaten them, albeit in three finals.
However, after a heavy enough defeat in the final of this competition last December, Antrim were able to make Down earn both their titles this season and that has raised a lot of optimism in the county.
They are genuine contenders for the Intermediate title, but their opening game is a banana skin – against reserve team from Kilkenny and it is always difficult to gauge what they will bring to the table.
While the Antrim defence has been forced into a series of changes over the past couple of months, the forward line seems to have improved with every outing. It could be a high scoring game, but home venue should favour the Saffrons.
Kildare and Cork meet in the same group and it will be a big surprise if Cork don’t enter next week’s head to head with Antrim unbeaten.
Laois are the seeded team in Derry’s group. Over the past couple of years Derry have struggled with the Midlanders when they had a fairly settled team representing the county.
This season has seen a good bit of chopping and changing in the Derry set-up and an away trip in their opening championship game might not be the best thing for them. Indeed it could make or break their campaign. If they are to win, they will need to play more like they did in the league games rather than their last outing in Loughgiel.
Kerry or Tipperary could win the other game in the group.
Meanwhile, in Group One Galway should take care of Carlow while Meath should win the battle with neighbours Dublin.
Verdict: Wins for Antrim, Cork, Galway and Meath with the other two games going to the wire.
Saturday July 24
Galway v Carlow (Athenry, 1pm)
Kildare v Cork (Hawkfield, 1pm)
Laois v Derry (O’Moore Park, 2.30pm)
Kerry v Tipperary (Lixnaw, 5pm)
Sunday July 25
Meath v Dublin (Páirc Tailteann, 2pm)
Antrim v Kilkenny (Dunloy, 2pm)