Hurling & Camogie

Swatragh and Slaughtneil expected to set up Derry camogie final repeat

Derry joint-captains Áine McAllister and Aoife Ní Chaiside are in semi-final action for their respective clubs this weekend
Derry joint-captains Áine McAllister and Aoife Ní Chaiside are in semi-final action for their respective clubs this weekend Derry joint-captains Áine McAllister and Aoife Ní Chaiside are in semi-final action for their respective clubs this weekend

The Elk Derry Senior Camogie Championship semi-finals

(Sunday, Owenbeg)

Swatragh v Lavey (1pm)

Slaughtneil v Ballinascreen (3pm)

EVERYTHING points to a repeat pairing of last year’s final in the Derry senior championship as preparations are finalised for this Sunday’s semi-final double-header in Owenbeg.

Both semi-finals are repeats of games earlier in the championship that resulted in comfortable wins for Swatragh and Slaughtneil.

The first set of group games of the championship came within a week of Derry collecting the All-Ireland intermediate title after a replay in Clones. That probably impacted more on Ballinascreen than on the holders Slaughtneil, who only had Aoife Ní Chaiside in county action.

As well as Derry’s other joint-captain Áine McAllister, there were four ‘Screen players involved – Rachel McAllister, Eimhear McGuigan, Mary Heggarty and Lauren McKenna. The latter didn’t feature in any of her club’s group games but came back for the comfortable 2-14 to 1-9 quarter-final win over Glen a fortnight ago, bursting forward as an attacking wing-back.

It is unlikely that she will be allowed to do the same attacking against Slaughtneil who beat them by 2-13 to 0-8 five weeks ago.

The Emmet’s are chasing nine successive titles and they have shown a great capacity to organise their troops to get the best from the team in each match.

The holders are without Tina Bradley this year, but Therese Mellon is back from a cruciate injury and playing well. Her cousin Sinéad continues to cause defences problems, while Olivia Rafferty is playing out of her skin.

It will take a good spread of scores to back up McAllister’s accuracy from frees and a mighty effort from Geoffrey McGonigle’s charges to knock the Emmet’s off their pedestal.

The last competitive game for both Swatragh and Lavey was against each other three weeks ago when the Davitt’s won by 3-9 to 1-7.

However, one of their goalscorers, Dara McGuckin picked up a leg injury and had to retire after just 14 minutes. Her participation in the semi-final opener is very much in doubt.

Nevertheless Swatragh have a lot more experienced players than Lavey – although, like Ballinascreen, the Gulladuff girls are hoping to select from a full strength panel for the first time. 

Áine and Sinéad McGill and Aoife Shaw missed the opening game, while Shaw sat out the Swatragh tie and could make a difference for this re-match. They also played county goalie Niamh Gribbin outfield. 

Shaw’s experience and leadership could make a difference, but you would still expect the McNicholl sisters and Dervla O’Kane to exert enough pressure to get Swatragh over the line.

Neither Lavey nor Ballinascreen are expected to win, but if one or both produce the performance of the season, they are in with a chance.