Chloe Sigerson during the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 Final at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Bumper weekend of camogie and football

What a weekend ahead with two All-Ireland Camogie semi-finals and the opening games in the round-robin phase of the county football championships.

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Camogie semi-finals

Senior Cork v Waterford on Saturday at Croke Park at 3.15pm

“Very disappointed that she got a 2 match ban, and could possibly miss out on 2 big games, a bit harsh but look we will appeal and see where it takes us, but as of now we are planning for Saturday without her.”

Cork manager Matthew Twomey speaking about the suspension handed down to Ashling Thompson for her red card received after the final whistle in the loss to Tipperary in the last group game.

Matthew was of the view that the defeat could turn out to be a blessing. “In a way it just might as after the game we had a really good chat amongst ourselves and we all agreed that (what we saw against Tipperary) was not acceptable and as a consequence we have really worked hard since that game.”

As for the opposition, Matthew gives Waterford due credit: “It’s some achievement from a team that could not get out of Division 2 in the league to reach this stage of the championship, I was really impressed with how they controlled their win over Limerick last Saturday it was effectively over by half-time.”

“It was excellent and the manner in which they used the big pitch and played good quality ball was a credit to their coaching team, especially Derek Lyons. It was very good to be fair and a warning that if we are not ready for them they will punish us.”

A couple of players stood out, “especially Niamh Rockett and Beth Carton - they were brilliant but they got great support from the likes of Lorraine Bray, Brianna O’Regan, Mairead Power and Abby Flynn - very hard working all over the field.”

The fact that is over a month since their last game is not a concern. “We have had some great A v B games in the last few weeks, some of the best I have seen, very intense and we learned a lot from them.”

It will also be the third meeting between the sides this year, Cork winning the previous two but Matthew said they were tough encounters. It was “really very hard in the Munster semi-final, Waterford led for most of the game even though we finished with 14 but ground out a win, while in the group it was also very tight in Walsh Park but we won by 6 points in the end.”

All that would suggest Cork will be favourites. “We probably are but that gives Waterford a free hit with no real pressure on them, but look we have to deal with that and hopefully we can and will.”

Cork will have Laura Treacy back and with Thompson and Orla Cronin out that’s a boost. “It is because Laura is a key player for us and has huge experience at this level and that is important even more so in Croke Park on big days.”

The unfortunate loss by the Ladies Footballers has also ensured that dual players Libby Coppinger and Meabh Cahalane have been able to focus fully on this game, big players in the defence, fronting goalkeeper and captain Amy Lee.

Half-backs Laura Hayes and Saoirse McCarthy as well as been excellent defenders have the ability to drive forward and clip over some nice points, that’s an added bonus.

Thompson’s absence from midfield could be offset by the inclusion of the hard working Hannah Looney who with a few more weeks training under her belt should be sharper while Katie O’Mahoney is a hard working player in this important area.

Cork have real quality in attack: Chloe Sigerson, Amy O’Connor, Katrina Mackey and Fiona Keating can trouble any defence.

It’s expected that Cork will win, but if they allow Waterford any degree of momentum they could be troubled, but there’s enough experience all over the field to guard against any complacency and with lots more big match experience of semi-finals in HQ, Cork have the capacity to win.

Galway and Kilkenny meet in the other semi-final where champions, Galway should advance.

Intermediate semi-final

Cork v Derry on Sunday in Nowlan Park at 4pm

Like the senior semi-final, this is also the third meeting between these sides this year with 1 win each.

Cork won the league encounter on a dreadful day in March, while Derry were winners in the final group of the championship on home soil, by then though Cork were already into the semi-final and were also without top scorer Joanne Casey who is fit for this game and that’s a big plus for Cork.

Derry are a very skilful side with Niamh McQuillan, Megan Kerr, Grainne McNicholl, Shannon Doherty and Aoife Shaw all impressing in the win over Cork and were equally impressive in the comfortable victory over Dublin in their quarter-final.

It’s been a good season to date for this Cork team; they narrowly lost the league semi-final now they are on the cusp of a final appearance and it is within their capability to achieve that.

There is a nice balance to the team; Stefanie Beausang is an excellent goalkeeper with Niamh O’Leary, Leanne O’Sullivan and Grainne Hannon anchor a solid defence, Lauren Callanan is a ball of energy in midfield alongside Rachel Harty, while in attack Cliona O’Callaghan, Michelle Murphy, Hayley Ryan and the return from injury of Casey will look to breach the strong Derry defensive unit.

Derry will probably, given that it’s their first team, will start as favourites, but it’s well within Cork’s capabilities to upset the odds.

It’s Galway v Meath in the other semi-final, what odds a Cork v Galway double header on All-Ireland final day in a couple of weeks time?

One other game on Sunday: it’s Cork v Wexford in Clara GAA Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Under 16 semi-final at 2pm.

Premier Senior Football Championship

Champions not only of Cork but Munster, St Finbarr’s open the defence of their titles against Éire Óg, whom they beat in the QF last year and will be determined to get off to a winning start.

Despite having several key players tied up with Cork, they comfortably qualified for the D1 league final and will be favourites to win this one, even if Steven Sherlock is an injury absentee.

Ian Maguire, Brian Hayes and Sam Ryan remain key players for the ‘Barr’s and while Colm O’Callaghan, John Cooper and Daniel Goulding will lead the Éire Óg challenge, the absence of a number of players, reflected in a heavy league semi-final defeat, mean it’s hard to see the champions losing this one which has a 7.30pm start on Friday in Páirc Uí Rinn.

Ballygarvan also on Friday at 7.30pm is the venue for the meeting of Valley Rovers and Douglas and the latter without four big players in Sean Powter, Brian Hartnett, Niall Hartnett and Kevin Flahive might struggle to get the points on offer here.

There are 3 games on Saturday. At 2pm in Mourneabbey it's Mallow v Ballincollig - hard one to call a slight nod to Ballincollig, while at 4pm in Brinny, Nemo Rangers play Newcestown always a hard team to beat at any level.

Nemo like the ‘Barr’s coasted to the league final, despite the absence of a quartet of players - Colin O’Brien and Aidan O’Reilly retiring, Alan Cronin working in London, while James McDemott has also relocated for work purposes - but the strength in depth with Mark Cronin, Kevin O’Donovan, Paul Kerrigan and captain Luke Connolly as effective as ever, they should and probably will win.

It’s a 7pm start for the clash of Carbery Rangers and Carrigaline in Bandon, where the odds favour a win for the West Cork side.

The final game is an all West Cork affair in Rosscabery on Sunday at 7pm when old rivals Castlehaven and Clonakilty meet.

The ‘Haven were runners-up in 2021 and beaten semi-finalists on penalties last year and are remarkably consistent over the years and generally lift themselves for derby games.

Once again, the Cahalanes the Hurleys and Mark Collins will spearhead their drive for another extended run. Clonakilty will be without the unfortunate Liam O’Donovan through injury, but with a lot of good players in their squad, they will test their neighbours, but it’s the ‘Haven to win.

Senior A Football Championship

This is a very competitive championship with several teams capable of going the distance and some intriguing opening round encounters.

In Group A, Ilen Rovers will endeavour to put the disappointment of relegation behind them when they play Clyda Rovers in Kilmurry on Saturday at 6.30pm, but they might just find the North Cork side a tough nut to crack

O’Donovan Rossa play newly promoted Newmarket in Macroom at 2pm and with momentum and a good league campaign behind them, the Duhallow side could get off to the best possible start.

Group B sees Doheny’s and Ballingeary meet in Enniskeane on Friday and the newly crowned Comortas Peil Na Gaelthacht champions will be favoured here, while in Clondrohid, Bandon might shade their clash with Kiskeam, both with 7.30pm starts.

It’s a very competitive looking Group C. Knockngaree who are beset with injuries and a few long campaigns, meet St Michael’s whose consistency in reaching the knockout phase is admirable but they just cannot get over the line, cracking tie in prospect here in Carrigadrohid on Saturday at 7.30pm, a possible draw here.

Rathcormac is the venue of Friday at 7.30pm where Bishopstown should get the better of Fermoy.