FOOTBALL: Finals in Connacht, Leinster and Ulster; Cork and Waterford to contest Munster semi-final
Compiled by Jackie Cahill & Aisling Clery (Leinster LGFA previews submitted by Aisling Clery, Leinster LGFA PRO)
SILVERWARE will be handed out this weekend in three provinces, as the TG4 Provincial Championships continue.
Old rivals Mayo and Galway will go head to head at Tuam Stadium on Sunday in the Connacht Senior Final, a game that is preceded by the Intermediate decider between Leitrim and Roscommon.
Both games will be live-streamed by Connacht LGFA and are available to purchase at https://page.inplayer.com/lgfaseason2022/other-fixtures.html
On Saturday, Meath and Westmeath meet in the round-robin phase of the Leinster Senior Championship, a game you can watch via the Leinster LGFA live streaming service, at https://page.inplayer.com/leinsterlgfa/
It’s also Ulster Junior and Intermediate Finals Day at O’Neills Healy Park in Omagh on Saturday.
The Junior Final between Antrim and Fermanagh will be available to view on the Ulster Ladies Gaelic Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/events/330713082505024/, while you can watch the Intermediate decider between Down and Tyrone at https://www.facebook.com/events/395988625868755/permalink/395989955868622/.
On Sunday, you can watch the Leinster Intermediate Final between Kildare and Wexford at https://page.inplayer.com/leinsterlgfa/, as Waterford and Cork battle it out for the right to play Kerry in the Munster Senior Final.
Saturday May 14
Meath v Westmeath; Páirc Tailteann, 3pm
Meath will be in buoyant mood as they get set to face Westmeath.
Not for the first time in recent times, Emma Duggan’s second half goal proved crucial as Meath defeated Dublin by 1-8 to 0-10 last Saturday.
Visiting Parnell Park was surely a daunting task, but the reigning TG4 All Ireland Champions embraced it, with Vikki Wall, Aoibhín Cleary and Mary Kate Lynch particularly impressive.
This weekend, they are back on their own home ground, and they face a Westmeath team that need to put in an exceptional performance.
In captain Ciara Blundell and Sarah Dillon, Westmeath have excellent attack-minded players, contrary to what their opening round defeat to Dublin might suggest.
Eamonn Murray makes five changes to the team that defeated Dublin last weekend. In defence, Áine Sheridan and Katie Newe come in to the full back line in place of captain Shauna Ennis and Mary Kate Lynch.
Niamh Gallogly earns a start ahead of Aoibheann Leahy while up front, Kelsey Nesbitt and Orla Byrne are selected to start ahead of Niamh O’Sullivan and Emma Duggan.
For Westmeath, Michael Finneran makes one change to the team from their last time out, with Karen Hegarty starting ahead of Anna Jones.
The sides last met in Christmas 2020 in the strangest of times; an empty Croke Park in the TG4 All Ireland Intermediate Final.
After two years of heartbreak, Meath won the All Ireland title in that grade, defeating their near neighbours by 2-17 to 4-5.
Westmeath hit three of their four goals in a four-minute spell and they will be hoping they can expose the Meath defence in a similar manner on Saturday, but the Royals may well have enough fire power to see them over the line.
Meath (v Westmeath): M McGuirk (capt.); A Sheridan, K Newe, O Duff; N Gallogly, E Troy, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, O Lally; M Thynne, K Nesbitt, O Byrne; V Wall, S Grimes, E White.
Westmeath (v Meath): A O’Donnell; M Fagan, M Scally, F Coyle; A O’Malley, A Alford, C Kelly; V Carr, T Dillon; C Blundell (capt.), S Dillon, K Boyce-Jordan; K Hegarty, K Giles, L Power.
Ulster JFC Final
Antrim v Fermanagh; O’Neills Healy Park, Omagh, 6pm
Antrim and Fermanagh will battle it out for Ulster Junior silverware on Saturday evening.
Antrim are reigning champions from 2021 but they’ll get nothing easy from a Fermanagh outfit determined to bounce back to the All-Ireland Intermediate ranks following relegation last year.
Fermanagh were in devastating form against Derry but Antrim have already beaten Saturday’s opponents in the provincial championship – and that will be a significant psychological edge ahead of this one.
Saoirse Tennyson’s recent return from injury has been a huge boost for Antrim but the Saffrons’ defence will have to keep a close eye on Fermanagh’s gifted forward Eimear Smyth.
Antrim (v Fermanagh): A McCann; D Coleman, A McFarland, N McIntosh; M Mulholland, S Tennyson, S O’Neill; C Emerson, Á Tubridy; G McLaughlin, C Carey (capt.), M O’Neill; B Devlin, O Prenter, C Taggart.
Fermanagh (v Antrim): R Gleeson; E Keenan, M McGloin, A Gordon (capt.); N McManus, S McQuade, D Curran; C Bogue, S McCarville; A O’Brien, B Bogue, S Britton; L Grew, E Smyth, B Bannon.
Ulster IFC Final
Down v Tyrone; O’Neills Healy Park, Omagh, 8pm
Down are reigning champions following last year’s final victory over Fermanagh.
On Saturday, they’ll pit their wits against a Tyrone side with promotion on their minds ahead of the TG4 All-Ireland series.
Tyrone were stung by relegation to the Intermediate grade last year and will be anxious to bounce back at the first attempt.
But Down are a strong outfit in their own right and the Mourne County contested a Lidl Division 3 semi-final against Wexford this year.
This is a straight shoot-out for Intermediate glory in Ulster, as Down and Tyrone are the only two teams in the competition.
Tyrone’s Lidl NFL campaign finished on a high note as they won well against Clare to retain Division 2 status for 2023 – and the Red Hands will look to carry that encouraging form into Saturday’s game.
Down (v Tyrone): C Kennedy; O Kelly, O Boyle, O Duffy; A McAlea, C McArdle, N McKibbin; M Doherty (capt.), K White; S Dougherty, J Foy, A Keown; V McCormack, N Ferris, O Swail.
Tyrone (v Down): S McVey; K Murphy, C Magee, E Mulgrew; J Lyons, E Brennan, S McCarroll; E Hegarty, A McHugh; N Hughes, E.J. Gervin, D Gallagher; N O’Neill (capt.), C McCaffrey, S Byrne.
Sunday May 15
Connacht IFC Final
Leitrim v Roscommon; Tuam Stadium, 2pm
A repeat of the 2021 Final sees Leitrim, the holders, take on Roscommon.
The Rossies are still basking in the warm afterglow of Lidl NFL Division 3 glory – but Leitrim had the upper hand when the sides met in the round-robin stage of the provincial competition.
Roscommon were winners of the Connacht Intermediate crown last back in 2019 and they’ll be quietly confident of bridging a three-year gap.
Laura Fleming will lead the Roscommon charge from midfield as captain, with Aisling Hanly a proven score-getter in attack.
Leitrim will look to the scoring power of Michelle Guckian as they look to retain their provincial crown.
A former team goalkeeper, Guckian scored 1-24 in the Lidl National League and was named on the Division 4 Team of the League.
Leitrim (v Roscommon): M Monaghan; E Quinn, S Tighe, S McCartan; C Tyrrell, C Owens (capt.), C Le Guen; M McGovern, N Tighe; L Dowd, M Guckian, E Bruen; R McHugh, L Fox, S Quinn.
Roscommon (v Leitrim): H Cummins; S Kenny, R Fitzmaurice, S McVeigh; R Wynne, N Feeney, A McAuliffe; C Conway, L Fleming (capt.); E Irwin, M McHugh, N McHugh; N Shanagher, A Hanly, F Tully.
Connacht SFC Final
Galway v Mayo; Tuam Stadium, 4pm
An intriguing encounter lies in store as old rivals Galway and Mayo go head to head for Senior silverware in Connacht.
When the sides last met in a Connacht decider, back in 2019, Galway won a replay at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick to land a third successive title.
Galway have had the better of the recent rivalry against the green and red, with Mayo landing Connacht crown in 2016 and 2011.
Since 2009, that’s the sum total of Mayo’s provincial silverware haul, with Galway hoovering up the rest.
The four-in-a-row chasing Tribeswomen received a major boost during the Lidl National League when former team captain and ace forward Tracey Leonard returned to the fold.
Leonard scored two goals in that 2019 replay but when these counties met most recently in the Lidl National League, Mayo ran out 6-6 to 2-8 winners.
Sinead Walsh and Lisa Cafferky netted a brace each on that occasion and both are named in the Mayo forward line for Sunday’s clash.
Galway will look to Leonard’s scoring nous and experience in the full-forward line, where she’s named alongside former underage stars Ailish Morrissey and Andrea Trill.
Morrissey has already enjoyed a brilliant 2022 as she landed a Yoplait O’Connor Cup title with University of Limerick, after securing currentaccount.ie All-Ireland Club glory with Kilkerrin-Clonberne.
Galway (v Mayo): A Griffin; S Molloy, S Ní Loingsigh (capt.), E Gavin; C Cooney, N Ward, K Geraghty; A Davoren, L Ward; L Coen, O Divilly, L Finnegan; A Trill, A Morrissey, T Leonard.
Mayo (v Galway): A Tarpey; É Ronayne, R Flynn, D Caldwell; C Needham, F McHale, K Sullivan (capt.); S Cafferky, A Geraghty; S Walsh, S Howley, S Mulvihill; L Cafferky, C Whyte, H Reape.
Leinster IFC Final
Kildare v Wexford; Netwatch Cullen Park, 4pm
Reigning champions Wexford will be hoping to retain their Leinster Intermediate title – as Kildare chase a first crown since 2016.
Kildare defeated Offaly by 5-14 to 3-6 in last week’s semi-final in a particularly impressive performance for Sean Finnegan’s team.
Neasa Dooley hit a hat trick for the Lilywhite while Orlaith Sullivan and Grace Clifford also found the net in a game where Kildare led by 4-6 to 1-3 at the break.
Kildare survived a late onslaught from Offaly where Sarah Kehoe and Marie Byrne both found the net late on but Kildare hung on.
Wexford, meanwhile, secured their Final place with a dramatic comeback win against Laois.
The Slaneysiders were eleven points behind at one stage but came back to win after extra-time.
Tara Doyle was instrumental in this Wexford win, and Kildare will no doubt have a plan to nullify the threat she possesses.
Wexford have other players that can deliver big performances and the likes of Aisling Murphy, Caitríona Murray and Bernie Breen are key to Lizzy Kent and John Nolan’s team.
Kildare supremo Finnegan has named an unchanged team to face Wexford, who have made just one change as Amy Wilson comes in for Kellie Kearney.
Kildare (v Wexford): D McGinn; C Nugent, L Lenehan, R Cribbin; M Doherty, L Gilbert, L Murtagh; G Clifford (capt.), H McLoughlin; C Wheeler, A Rattigan, C Sullivan; N Dooley, O Sullivan, L Curran.
Wexford (v Kildare): S Merrigan; S Harding Kenny, A Halligan, S Murphy; O Kehoe, R Murphy (capt.), C Donnelly, B Breen, C Banville; S Hamilton, C Murray, E O’Brien; A Wilson, A Murphy, T Doyle.
Munster SFC semi-final
Waterford v Cork; Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 2pm
Cork will start any campaign as one of the favourites for silverware and 2022 is no different.
The Rebelettes may not have contested a Lidl NFL Division 1 semi-final but time out of the spotlight has allowed team manager Shane Ronayne to get his charges primed for Championship.
Their summer season begins at Fraher Field in Dungarvan on Sunday, with hosts Waterford providing the opposition.
As recently as 2017, Waterford beat Cork in the Munster Championship but the Leesiders are holders, having beaten Sunday’s opponents in the 2019 decider, and they’re fancied to reach another Final.
Survival in Division 1 of the Lidl National League was vital for Waterford but now they face the white heat of Championship – and a Cork team determined to impress.
Waterford do have players that can hurt their opponents and boss Pat Sullivan is an experienced manager.
But Cork have named a strong team on paper for this one – with the O’Sullivan sisters, Ciara and Doireann, selected in the central attacking positions.
Kerry await the winners of this one in the provincial decider on May 28.
Waterford (v Cork): E Gallagher; M Dunford, C McGrath, R Casey; A Mullaney, Karen McGrath (capt.), A O’Neill; E Murray, L Mulcahy; B McMaugh, H Power, M Wall; K Murray, K Hogan, Kate McGrath.
Cork (v Waterford): M O’Brien; R Phelan, E Meaney, S Leahy; M Duggan, M O’Callaghan (capt.), M Cahalane; A Hutchings, S Kelly; E Cleary, C O’Sullivan, L O’Mahony; Á O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, L Coppinger.