FOOTBALL: TG4 Leinster Intermediate Championship Returns – Round One Previews
By Aisling Clery (Photo (c) Leinster Ladies Gaelic Football Association)
After a two year hiatus, the Leinster Intermediate Championship is back. The Covid Pandemic forced it’s cancellation in 2020 and 2021 and the return of this competition is eagerly anticipated.
The opening round this Sunday sees 2022 National Football League Division Four Champions, Offaly host Wicklow at Bretland Park. 2019 Leinster Intermediate Champions, Wexford get their campaign underway when they take on Kildare at Manguard Plus Hawkfield GAA CoE. Clan na Gael in Dundalk hosts Louth and visitors Laois, while McGrath Park in Bagenalstown sees Carlow host Longford.
All games are set for a 2pm throw in, this Sunday April 17th.
Louth v Laois, Clan na Gael Dundalk
Both sides have experienced positive League campaigns in 2022 albeit in separate divisions. Having triumphed in 2021 with the Division Three Title, Laois found themselves at home in Division Two this season and made it all the way to the semi-finals before they were put to the sword by Armagh. Laois are a team that like to attack and their starting fifteen are not only ball carriers but also well able to keep the scoreboard ticking over. While Division Three did not go quite as successfully for the Louth ladies, they found themselves in a relegation battle against Wicklow. However, in a sunny Abbotstown they pulled out a top-drawer performance defending fiercely and two goals in two minutes ensured victory and survival in Division Three for 2023. However, Championship football is another ball game and both sides will have to be at their best to get off to a winning start.
Louth (v Laois): R Lambe Fagan; E Hand, S Quinn, E Murray; C Nolan, S McLoughlin (C), A Russell; A Halligan, R Hanna; R Kavanagh, L Collins, J McCourt; K Flood, A Byrne, E Byrne.
Laois (v Louth): E Barry; C Dunne, A Potts, A Kelly (C); R Williams, E Healy, A Healy; J Moore, O Hennessy; E Lawlor, F Dooley, E Fitzpatrick; M Nerney, LM Maher, S Havill.
Offaly v Wicklow, Bretland Park, Clara
Undoubtedly, Offaly will be in jubilant mood as they get their Championship hopes underway. Victory against Limerick in the Division Four Final two weeks ago would have ensured a happy training camp. Hosting their first Leinster Championship game in their home grounds points to a special occasion and with an attack minded first fifteen named, an entertaining contest is guaranteed. Wicklow will be eager to put their League campaign behind them. After suffering a drop back to Division Four last time out against Louth, Wicklow will be eager to get back to winning ways. And what better way than the opening round of the Leinster Championship. A solid defence and a returning Laura Hogan will put Leighton Glynn’s side in with a chance of success on Sunday.
Offaly (v Wicklow): T Roe; I Fleming, E Nally, D Hannon; M Mann, E Maher, R Ennis (C); E Hand, A Gavin Mangan; C Walsh, E McEvoy, M Byrne; S Kehoe, M Daly, R Mealiff.
Wicklow (v Offaly): J Kinch; E Hadden, S Hogan, J Byrne; L Fusciardi, SJ Winders (C), J Nolan Byrne; N McGettigan, A Gorman; S Delahunt, N Cullen, R McGettigan; L Hogan, S McGettigan, M Kealy.
Carlow v Longford, McGrath Park Bagenalstown
Carlow sought entry to this year’s Intermediate Championship, and they will be eager to get off to a good start as they welcome Longford to McGrath Park. While they lost their three League games to Offaly, London and Limerick, they have had time to regroup and prepare for Sunday’s opening round. They have talent in abundance and in Rachel Sawyer, one of the finest attackers in the game. They face a Longford side rejuvenated. Recent successes in the Leinster Club Championship are evident in this Longford team with Colmcille, Longford Slashers and Ballymore all heavily represented. They were one point adrift of Division Three finalists, Wexford, in their NFL fixture (3-04 to 3-05) and victory in the opening round would continue their upward trajectory.
Carlow (v Longford): N Hanley; O Hickey, O Fitzpatrick, K Collins; R Bermingham (C), E Athkinson, A Dowling; N Mohan, E Ware; N Kelly, D O’Brien, A Gilmartin; S Doyle, R Byrne, R Sawyer.
Longford (v Carlow): R Jones; S McCormack, E O’Brien, M Noonan; C Farrell, L Keegan, K Crawford; M Victory, N Brady; A Cosgrove (C), G Shannon, E Heaney; L McGuire, K Burke, L Monaghan.
Kildare v Wexford, Manguard Plus Hawkfield GAA CoE
Potentially the clash of the round, Kildare host Wexford at Hawkfield. Wexford reached the TG4 All Ireland Intermediate Final in 2021 and a Lidl Division Three Final two weeks ago. While both games ended in defeat for the side from the sunny south-east, the experience of both occasions will have lit a fire for success this Championship season. Meanwhile, Kildare will have been disappointed they didn’t qualify for either final. They will be eager to cast off the bridesmaid status having lost out in last year’s All Ireland semi-final against Westmeath and the NFL semi-final against Roscommon a few weeks ago. Under new management, Kildare will be pushing for a winning start to their Championship campaign.
Kildare (v Wexford): D McGinn; C Nugent, L Lenehan, G Harnett; M Doherty, L Gilbert, R Cribbin; G Clifford (C), H McLoughlin; C Wheeler, A Rattigan, C Sullivan; N Dooley, G Wheeler, L Curran.
Wexford (v Kildare): S Merrigan; C Neville, A Halligan, N Cloke Rochford; O Kehoe, R Murphy (C), C Donnelly; K Kearney, C Banville; S Hamilton, C Murray, E O’Brien; A Wilson, A Murphy, B Breen.