Hurling and camogie

Down and Cavan battle to join Armagh in knockout stages of All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship

Ciara Donnelly will represent a goal threat for Armagh when they take on Wexford in the All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship on Saturday
Paul McConville

All-Ireland Premier Junior championship

TWO Ulster teams are guaranteed to make the knock-out stages of the All-Ireland Premier Junior championship this weekend.

Holders Armagh are already there and so too are the team they face in their final group game on Saturday.

Wexford have edged past the Orchard county in each of their two meetings this season. They beat them in Armagh in the last group game of the league by 1-14 to 0-16 and then, when the sides met in the Division Three final, the Slaneysiders hit the last four points to come out on the right side of a 0-13 to 1-8 scoreline.

So the teams know each other fairly well by this stage although a visit to Wexford might test Mattie Lennon's side more than the two previous encounters.

Having said that, Armagh were impressive enough in winning back the Ulster Intermediate title and they scored 3-12 in their championship fixture against Waterford a fortnight ago. With Ciara Donnelly and Collette McSorley operating close to their opponents' goalline there will always be a strong possibility that there will be goals for Armagh.

So far, however, they have managed just one goal in two outings against Wexford and in the league final their shooting was pretty poor especially during the first half.

Should they win in Wexford, they will be well-placed to return to an All-Ireland final. A loss and the journey become more difficult.

The other Ulster side will emerge from the Cavan v Down game.

Limerick have already qualified in top-spot from this group beating each team by seven points, although Cavan did manage to score 1-10 as opposed to Down's 1-6.

Down though spurned a number of scoring opportunities in Ballyholland last week. They have potential but they would need to be more clinical if they want another game in the competition.

There is evidence that Cavan may have hit a plateau after a jump up the rankings from the start of last season. They contested the final of the competition last year and in the first half of that game looked capable of beating Armagh.

The same thing happened in the Ulster Intermediate semi-final at the start of July – a good first half was followed by an unsure second and the Breffni Blues went down in extra time.

The recent trip to Limerick will not exactly have lifted spirits, but at home they will be difficult enough to beat. It should be a close game however.

In the other group Clare should easily defeat Kildare.

Group winners should be Armagh, Limerick and Clare with Wexford, Cavan and Roscommon going the quarter-final route.

All-Ireland Premier Junior championship


Group One: Wexford v Armagh

Group Two: Clare v Kildare

Group Three: Cavan v Down

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Hurling and camogie