FOOTBALL: Senior Championships get underway in Leinster and Ulster
Compiled by Jackie Cahill and Aisling Clery (Leinster previews compiled by Aisling Clery, Leinster LGFA PRO) (Photo (c) Leinster Ladies Gaelic Football)
LAST year’s TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship runners-up Dublin get their 2022 campaign underway on Saturday when they take on Westmeath in the round-robin stages of the TG4 Leinster Senior Championship.
Provincial senior fare returns to the province for the first time since 2019, when Dublin defeated Westmeath in the Final.
There are three senior teams in the 2022 Leinster Senior Championship, with Dublin and Westmeath joined by Lidl NFL Division 1 and TG4 All-Ireland Senior champions Meath, who get their campaign underway on Saturday, May 7, when they play Dublin.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Armagh and Monaghan clash in the TG4 Ulster SFC semi-final.
The second semi-final between Cavan and Donegal has been confirmed for St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, on Sunday May 8, and it will form part of a double-header alongside the men’s fixture between the two counties.
There’s also action this weekend in the TG4 Connacht and Leinster Intermediate Championships, while Derry will play Fermanagh in an Ulster Junior semi-final on Sunday.
Friday April 29
TG4 Connacht IFC
Leitrim v Sligo; Cloone, 7pm
This is must-win territory for both counties as they aim for a final place.
Sligo have lost to Roscommon, while Leitrim fell to Clare already in the provincial championship.
Munster outfit Clare are competing in the Connacht championship this year but cannot contest the Final, which means it’s two from Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon for final slots.
Leitrim (v Sligo): M Monaghan; E Quinn, S Tighe, S McCartan; C Tyrrell, C Owens (capt.), C Le Guen; M McGovern, N Tighe; L O’Dowd, M Guckian, E Bruen; R McHugh, L Fox, S Quinn.
Sligo (v Leitrim): L Gaughan; M McNamara, A Egan, C Dunne; L Powell, N Brennan, S Cunney; S Reynolds (capt.), R Molloy; A Haran, E McGuire, L Kelly; L Duffy, D McGrath, R O’Brien.
Saturday, April 30
TG4 Ulster SFC semi-final
Armagh v Monaghan; St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 2.15pm
Ulster champions Armagh will hope to bounce back from their Lidl NFL Division 2 Final disappointment and book a place in another TG4 provincial decider.
They’ll start as favourites too and when the sides met in the League, Armagh ran out winners by seven points.
A boost for Armagh is the return of captain Kelly Mallon to the starting line-up.
She did feature during the second half of the League Final but is now back to full fitness following a lengthy injury lay-off.
Despite losing that League Final, Armagh are touted by many as potential Championship dark horses but they’ll want to lay down a marker in Ulster first.
The winners of this one will play the winners of the Cavan v Donegal semi-final, which is fixed for Sunday, May 8.
Having lost a number of experienced players in recent times, including former TG4 Al Star Ciara McAnespie, transitional Monaghan will look to continue their encouraging 2022 form.
The Farney girls gave a fine account of themselves too in the Division 2 semi-final loss to Kerry, losing out by just three points.
Armagh (v Monaghan): A Carr; C Towe, C McCambridge, S Grey; G Ferguson, L McConville, T Grimes; B Mackin, C O’Hanlon; E Lavery, A McCoy, N Coleman; A Mackin, K Mallon (capt.), A Lennon.
Monaghan (v Armagh): O Kelly; S Brady, E Treanor, L Garland; C Treanor, A McCarey, A Burns; M Atkinson (capt.), L Jones; R Courtney, E Clerkin, A Garland; J Drury, J McQuillan, S Capaldi.
TG4 Leinster SFC Round One
Westmeath v Dublin, TEG Cusack Park, 1.30pm
1034 days have passed since the last ball was kicked in the Leinster LGFA SFC. On 30th June 2019, Dublin won their 8th consecutive Leinster SFC title having defeated Westmeath by 4-11 to 1-07 in Netwatch Cullen Park. In Cusack Park this Saturday, the sides get to renew rivalries after an extended lay-off owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dublin were beaten in the last kick of the game in this year’s National Football League semi-final against Donegal and will be eager to get their Championship campaign off to a winning start.
AFLW stars Sinéad Goldrick and Lauren Magee make a welcome return to Mick Bohan’s starting fifteen, while recent Team of the League stars Leah Caffrey, Orlagh Nolan and Hannah Tyrrell also start. Carla Rowe will begin her first game as Dublin Senior Captain from centre forward, while Grainne O’Driscoll has been handed a start following confirmation that former skipper Sinead Aherne picked up a knock in training on Thursday evening.
Westmeath had a difficult National League campaign that culminated in relegation to Division Two for 2023. However, they will have had chance to learn some lessons from that campaign, and will undoubtedly be ready to face life in the Senior Championship after their All Ireland Intermediate success last September.
Kelly Boyce Jordan captains the home side and she is named to start alongside 2021 TG4 Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year Sarah Dillon. Vicky Carr is set to partner Tracey Dillon in the centre of the field while the full back line of Melek Fagan, Muireann Scally and Fiona Coyle will be set to keep Dublin’s attacking line quiet.
With just three teams in the Championship, every game will count and none more so than this weekend.
Westmeath (v Dublin): A O’Donnell; M Fagan, M Scally, F Coyle; A O’Malley, A Alford, C Kelly; V Carr, T Dillon; C Thornton, S Dillon, K Boyce-Jordan (C); C Smullen, K Giles, L Power.
Dublin (v Westmeath): C Trant; J Tobin, L Caffrey, T Quinn Corbally; S Goldrick, A Kane, O Nolan; J Dunne, L Magee; C O’Connor, C Rowe (C), N Owens; G O’Driscoll, H Tyrrell, S Wylde.
TG4 Connacht IFC
Roscommon v Clare; Padraig Peases, Taughmaconnell, 2pm
As the only Intermediate team from Munster competing in the 2022 Championship, Clare have taken the opportunity to sharpen up for the All-Ireland series with games in the Connacht provincial series.
They’re not permitted to contest a Final but will have good tests against Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim to warm up for the summer campaign.
Clare have already beaten Clare and now take on a Roscommon outfit fresh from victory over Sligo.
Roscommon (v Clare): S Lavin; S Kenny, R Fitzmaurice, S McVeigh; R Wynne, K Colgan, A McAuliffe; C Conway, L Fleming (capt.); E Irwin, M McHugh, N McHugh; N Shanagher, A Hanly, F Tully.
Clare (v Roscommon): M Glynn; R Doohan, T Kelly, G Harvey; S Ní Chonaill, L Ryan, O Devitt; A Reidy, S Considine; A Sexton, L Roche, C Moloney; N O’Dea, F Marrinan, C Callinan.
Sunday, May 1st
TG4 Leinster IFC Round Three
Wexford v Longford, Wexford Park, 2pm
It’s quite literally all to play for in Wexford Park as Wexford battle Longford. Both sides have one win so far in the championship while both have been defeated by Kildare. This is a winner takes all battle that secures a semi-final spot for the victor and there is no doubt that both sides will fancy their chances. Wexford recovered from their opening round loss to Kildare to defeat Carlow last time out.
Unsurprisingly, Lizzy Kent and John Nolan have named an unchanged side from that victory over Carlow.
With the scoring prowess of Caitríona Murray and Aisling Murphy up front and Aisling Halligan in defence alongside Ciara Neville, Shauna Murphy and captain Roisin Murphy at centre back, they will be confident they have enough to progress. Longford, however, will have other ideas. They lost by a single point to Kildare last week and will feel they could have done better. Brian Noonan makes three changes to last week’s team with Michelle Farrell, Clodagh Lohan and Sarah Shannon all brought in to start. This may well come down to who wants it more, the perfect game for a neutral!
Wexford (v Longford): S Merrigan; C Neville, A Halligan, S Murphy; O Kehoe, R Murphy (C), C Donnelly; K Kearney, C Banville; S Hamilton, C Murray, E O’Brien; A Wilson, A Murphy, B Breen.
Longford (v Wexford): R Jones; S McCormack, E O’Brien, M Noonan; C Farrell, L Keegan, K Crawford; M Victory, M Farrell; A Cosgrove, G Shannon, E Heaney; C Lohan, S Shannon (C), L Monaghan.
Carlow v Kildare, McGrath Park, Bagenalstown, 2pm
With their opening round wins, Kildare have already qualified for the semi-finals but which semi-final remains to be seen as they get set to battle Carlow in McGrath Park. Seán Finnegan has completely reshuffled his pack with ten changes to the side that defeated Longford last time out.
Carlow have made one change, Sinead Hayden comes in for Niamh Kelly. While they have lost their opening two games, Carlow will be extremely proud of the progress they are making and their competitiveness has been without question. Their full forward line of Sara Doyle, Dannah O’Brien and Rachel Sawyer converted 1-05 of their total tally last time out and given an opportunity they will punish teams.
Kildare though will be intent on finishing top of their group and the half back line of Lauren Murtagh, Lara Gilbert and Rachel Cribbin will be one which defends staunchly while also setting up a myriad of attacks.
Carlow (v Kildare): N Hanley; O Hickey, O Fitzpatrick, A Dowling; R Bermingham (C), E Atkinson, R Bailey; N Mohan, N Murphy; S Hayden, E Ware, A Gilmartin; S Doyle, D O’Brien, R Sawyer.
Kildare (v Carlow): C Nallen; F Troute, L Lenehan, S Kendrick; L Murtagh, L Gilbert, R Cribbin; G Clifford (C), L Reilly; R Forde, L Curran, N Sinnott; E Dowling, O Sullivan, L Burke.
Laois v Wicklow, Park Ratheniska GAA, 2pm
Laois boast a 100% winning start to this year’s Championship. Tights wins over Louth and Offaly in Rounds One and Two respectively mean they currently sit atop the group. However, to stay there they are going to have to make sure to defeat Wicklow as Leighton Glynn’s troops arrive for battle in Park Ratheniska.
Laois were pushed all the way by a defiant Offaly side last weekend, thanks chiefly to a fine performance from Emma Lawlor. Donie Brennan will be hoping for the same resilience to ensure they top the group. Standing in their way though, are a Wicklow team that ground out a two point win over Louth last time out.
Síofra Adams and Marie Kealy hit the winning brace for Wicklow in Baltinglass and hopes will be high that they can reproduce the same result.
Laois (v Wicklow): N Lutrell; S Larkin, A Potts, A Kelly (C); R Williams, C Dunne, A Donoher; A Healy, A Kirrane; E Galvin, LM Maher, E Fitzpatrick; S Havill, E Lawlor, A Havill.
Wicklow (v Laois): J Kinch; L Dunne, S Hogan, J Byrne; L Fusciardi, SJ Winders (C), H Dowling; S McGettigan, A Gorman; S Delahunt, N Cullen, R McGettigan; L Hogan, M Deeney, M Kealy.
Louth v Offaly, St Kevin’s Dunleer, 2pm
This game has the potential to be the game of the round. Louth will be smarting from last week’s defeat to Wicklow, while Offaly will want to get back to winning ways after they narrowly lost out to Laois. Both managers have named unchanged teams for this week’s clash.
Nothing less than a win will do for Offaly, while they will also be hoping Laois defeat Wicklow. They will have been happy with their performance last weekend, perhaps even feeling they could have done more, and they may well use that as an incentive this time out. Saorah Doyle and Ellee McEvoy have both been key upfront for Offaly, while Shannen McLoughlin has played a captain’s role in defence for Louth alongside Ceire Nolan and Aoife Russell.
Neither side will want to lose this one and while Louth cannot qualify for the semi-finals, pride and the desire to win will be all consuming in the Wee County’s dressing room.
Louth (v Offaly): R Lambe Fagan; E Hand, S Quinn, M McMahon; C Nolan, S McLoughlin (C), A Russell; A Halligan, R Hanna; R Kavanagh, L Collins, J McCourt; K Flood, R Carr, C Woods.
Offaly (v Louth): E Evans; I Fleming, E Nally, N Buckley; M Mann, E Maher, S McGuinness; E Hand, R Ennis (C); F Dempsey, C Walsh, M Byrne; S Doyle E McEvoy, R Mealiff.
TG4 Ulster JFC semi-final
Derry v Fermanagh; O’Neills Healy Park, Omagh, 1.45pm
Derry contested an Ulster Junior Final in 2021, losing out to Antrim, and will hope to make it back to another final.
But the Oak Leafers will have their work cut out against a Fermanagh team that was relegated from the Intermediate Championship last year.
In a three-team Junior Championship, Fermanagh have already lost out to Antrim, who are through to the Final, but the Erne County have a second bite of the cherry against Derry.
The winners of this one will face off against the Saffrons in the provincial decider.
Derry (v Fermanagh): T McGovern; J Corr, C Dillion, C Loughran; B Donnelly, O McCloskey, A Boorman; A Ní Lochlainn, C McCloskey; R Curran, N Browne (capt.), E Mullan; C Moore, L McGonagle, E Murray.
Fermanagh (v Derry): 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.
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