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Camogie League Final heads full weekend of action

Wednesday, 4th April, 2018 5:10pm

It’s a hectic weekend with the opening games in the three grades of the County Football Championships along with Division 1 Final of the Littlewood’s National Senior Camogie League.

Cork v Kilkenny

The first question I asked Cork Camogie boss Paudie Murray ahead of Sunday’s final, was had he an issue with going to Nowlan Park to play Kilkenny. The answer was emphatic: "not a bother in the world, in fact it presents us with a great challenge and a test of where we are at this time of the season".

He did however add an interesting caveat. "What I would say though is that when the Camogie Association are deciding on the venue for the All-Ireland semi-finals later in the year, they consider, no in fact, they pick, Páirc Uí Chaoimh. After all, apart from Croke Park it’s the best stadium in the country."

In the overall context Paudie is delighted to be in another final. "At the start of the year, which was lot earlier than normal, we hadn’t a lot done so we just went from game to game and improved with each outing, so yeah it’s good to be in another final."

Kilkenny are the champions and with a huge home crowd behind them, they will have a lot of motivation, obviously not to lose in front of them and of course a measure of compensation for the subsequent defeat in the All-Ireland Final.

Both sides will have the majority of players that featured in that cracker on duty and expect a similar contest on Sunday, with Danielle Morrissey, Shelley Farrell, Denise Gaule, Katie Power and Anne Dalton key players for the Ann Downey coached Kilkenny side.

As for Cork, they will once again look to the likes of Aoife Murray, Gemma O’Connor, Laura Treacy, Orla Cotter, Ashling Thompson, Katriona and Pamela Mackey and Orla Cronin in their bid to win the first major trophy of the season.

Very little has separated these sides in the last couple of games. Sunday will be just as tight, it’s a real test of Cork’s resolve, but one they are well capable of passing.

Senior Football Championship

It’s a big weekend for eight clubs involved in the four games down for decision, with the remaining matches going ahead next weekend.

First up in a double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night at 6.15pm, it’s Mallow back at this level against a Valley Rovers side that have seen a few of their players depart for foreign shores, which will not help their cause.

Mallow hope to have Cork star James Loughrey back from injury and he will be an asset and might be enough to get them over the line.

It’s an all southside clash at 8pm with Douglas taking on Bishopstown, whose form of late has been poor. Plenty of good players in both sides - Ken O’Halloran, Jamie O’Sullivan and Conor Dorman for the ‘Town, while Eoin and Alan Cadogan, Kevin Flahive and Sean Wilson will play for Douglas, but they will miss the energy Sean Powter brings to their side, but they should still win.

On Sunday in Ballygarvan at 3pm, it’s Aghada v O’Donovan Rossa and here the East Cork side will be fancied and might just shade it.

Mallow at 3.45pm is the venue for the meeting of Kiskeam and St Nick’s, who will once again enter this game as underdogs, as the Duhallow have won four out of four in Division 2 of the league. Nick’s though are renowned championship battlers and with David Dunlea, Dean Brosnan, David Busteed and David Dooling going well, they are capable of springing a surprise.

Premier Intermediate Football

Some cracking games, all on Sunday, in this highly competitive championship, where it is always hard to predict a winner.

Na Piarsaigh and Newmarket meet in Mallow at 2pm Sunday and here the northside outfit, who had a good run last year, will be fancied. Another northside team St Vincent’s travel to Inchigeela at 3.30pm where they might just find Castletownbere a tough nut to crack.

Carrigadrohid hosts a double-header at 2pm. It’s Bandon v Naomh Aban with the latter favoured to win, while at 3.45pm, Bantry Blues - without the retired Graham Canty and Ruairi Deane doubtful - might struggle against Fermoy, who will have the Clancy brothers Tomas and Padraig in their team.

Macroom and St Michaels - last year’s runners-up - head to Ovens. It’s a 3pm start for what has the makings of a cracking contest, where the city side might be good enough to get their campaign off to a winning start.

Intermediate Football Championship

Brian Dillon’s neatly appointed ground is the venue on Saturday night at 6.15pm, for the meeting of Mayfield and Glenville. It’s a really short trip for both sides it must be said, with the latter expected to win.

At the same time, it’s Grenagh and Glanworth in Killavullen with the North Cork side looking better equipped to win. The final game is on Sunday where Ballydesmond with Donnacha O’Connor still playing good football in their side should overcome the challenge of Aghabullogue in Millstreet at 6.15pm.

Extra-time will be played in all these games and replay dates have also been set as with a very short window in which these have to be played within a week and shorter in some cases.

Of course, the fixture makers, and in particular Diarmuid O’Donovan will hope that the weather does not play havoc with the schedule.

As usual there will be extensive coverage of all these games on C103 with two commentaries from Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night.

Munster Minor Football Championship

Given Kerry’s dominance of the recent Corn Ui Mhuiri, and they are bidding for a fourth All-Ireland title in a row, most accept that they will win this year’s championship again.

What is very disappointing was the refusal of some counties to enter into a round-robin format, similar to the Hurling Championship, which in my opinion shows their unwillingness to promote football. I would go further and say the Council should have insisted the two championships be played in the same format.

Why should the minor hurler get preferential treatment over the minor footballer?

All that aside, Cork open their campaign against Waterford in Páirc Uí Rinn next Wednesday night at 7pm, and it would constitute a major surprise if Cork were not to win.

Finally

Cork having secured their place in the semi-final courtesy of their win over Galway last week, hit the road again on Sunday when they make the long trip to Donegal in their final group game in Division 1 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League and will be hoping to conclude this phase with another win.

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