Antrim camogs look to maintain momentum on tough trip to Cork
All-Ireland Intermediate Championship: Cork v Antrim (Saturday, Cork Camogie Grounds, 1pm)
LAST Sunday's opening game in the All-Ireland Intermediate championship in Dunloy was probably exciting enough for the neutral spectator as Antrim lived on the edge for much of the hour against a Kilkenny team that seemed to be gaining in confidence.
However little pieces of magic from a few of the forwards – Caitrín Dobbin, Róisín McCormick and Áine Magill – plus neat finishes to the net from McCormick and sub Katie Carey saw Antrim over the line.
They had to change their team shortly before the start with up to four players unavailable due to Covid. None of the four players introduced at the last minute were new to this level of competition, but there was certainly some disruption and the team play was unhinged a little.
The experienced Maeve Connolly and Chloe Drain have been short of match practice since picking up injuries at the end of May in the league game against Derry and it is now a bonus that they have come through a full game that was in the melting pot so close to the end.
The arrival of Áine Magill is also a plus. Over a fortnight the Dunloy minor came in as a sub in the Ulster senior final defeat against Down, picked up Player of the Match in the Ulster Minor final against Derry with 1-7 from midfield and then justified her first start for Antrim seniors with four points from play.
Having secured the victory it is now imperative that Antrim retain momentum as winning became a habit last year that brought them straight through to the final.
A visit to Cork however is a huge challenge not least because the Rebelettes enjoyed a comfortable 1-14 to 0-7 win in Kildare last week.
The bigger challenge would seem to be to retain the playing panel from contact with Covid and be able to field the team selected earlier in the week.
Derry were in no way flattered by their 1-19 to 0-10 win over Laois last weekend and they are back on the road with a trip to north Kerry to take on a team that had a surprise 1-11 to 0-11 win over Tipperary last week.
Indeed Kerry also had a big win over Galway in the first round of the league, but were unable to sustain that level of performance and reach the knockout stages. In Lixnaw they are a challenge to any visiting team.
However Derry look to be a different team than the one that started July with a limp performance in the Ulster semi-final in Loughgiel. The addition of more experienced players to the panel has steadied them a lot and there was a lot of good team-work emerging during the Laois game last week.
One swallow doesn’t make the summer of course, but if they return from the Kingdom with a victory there is every chance that they will be a huge threat to other teams that would have had much more realistic aspirations of reaching Croke Park when the competition draws were being made.
Elsewhere I would expect Kilkenny to beat Kildare in Antrim’s group and Laois, who fell to Derry last weekend, to find themselves in relegation bother by losing to Tipperary.
That leaves Group One where Meath and Galway are the front-runners. Both won easily enough last week. Both are apart this week and on the road, but I expect both to qualify for the knock-out stages with victory in Carlow and Dublin respectively.
THERE are three games in the All-Ireland Premier Junior championship and only one Ulster team in action.
Limerick visit Ballyholland to take on Down. The Munster side had an impressive home win over Cavan last week and will qualify in top spot from the group if they win in Newry.
While Down put it up to Armagh in the Ulster Intermediate championship, they have lost players to the senior team since then and will struggle to keep in touch with Limerick.
Elsewhere Armagh will keep a close eye on the game in Walsh Park. They beat Waterford last week and play Wexford next week. If Wexford wins then Armagh are through to the knock-out stages and next week’s game becomes a decider for group winner.
Finally Roscommon shot 2-26 last week and should be too strong for Clare this week. Wins for Limerick, Wexford and Roscommon then.
Nancy Murray Cup: Mayo v Tyrone (Saturday, Toreen, 5pm)
THE teams that should contest the eventual final of the Nancy Murray Cup are in action in Toreen.
Last year’s beaten finalists Tyrone will get a tough game from a Mayo side that pushed Cavan in the Division Four league semi-final. It might even be a win for the Connacht side.
All-Ireland Senior Championship
2pm in St Rynagh’s: Offaly v Limerick
2pm in Cusack Park Ennis: Clare v Westmeath
5pm in Páirc Uí Rinn: Cork v Waterford
5pm in Páirc Esler : Down v Dublin
5pm in Callan : Kilkenny v Galway
All-Ireland Intermediate Championship
1pm in Cork Camogie Grounds: Cork v Antrim
1pm in Callan: Kilkenny v Kildare
2pm in Santry: Dublin v Galway
2pm in Lixnaw: Kerry v Derry
5pm in Drum and Inch: Tipperary v Laois
5pm in Fenagh: Carlow v Meath
All-Ireland Senior Championship
2pm in Semple Stadium: Tipperary v Wexford
Tesco All-Ireland Minor Championships
(2pm unless stated)
Athenry : Galway v Tipperary
Waterford IT: Waterford v Kilkenny
Cork Camogie Grounds: Cork v Limerick
Owenbeg: Derry v Westmeath
Banagher: Offaly v Kildare
Fenagh: Carlow v Laois
Minor B Shield
Kilcormac-Killoughey : Kerry v Armagh
Kilmessan : Meath v Roscommon
Healy Park: Tyrone v Donegal
Crosskeys: Cavan v Mayo