All-Ireland U16A Championship Final
Kilkenny v Tipperary
Gaelic Grounds, 3.30pm
Kilkenny prevailed by just a point when these two sides met in the opening round of the All-Ireland U16A championship in March so the expectation is that the result in the final will be in doubt right up to the final whistle.
The Black and Amber accounted for Galway and Derry subsequently, before putting Clare to the sword with 24 points to spare in the semi-final. Lydia Fitzpatrick is a deadly accurate free-taker, while Julie-Anne Malone, Mary Corcoran and Michelle Walsh are very lively attackers with a keen eye for a score.
In defence, Catherine Foley and Mary O’Connell are resolutely strong performers in the central positions, with the latter a truly outstanding performer at centre-back despite being underage again next year.
Tipp looked bound for the exit door when 10 points in arrears to Cork with 10 minutes remaining in their semi-final but a brace of goals from Tara Kennedy and another from Cliodhna Ryan helped secure a replay.
The Premier outfit made no mistake second time around, making full use of the elements in the opening half to blitz their opponents and finish with four goals in hand. Kennedy and Ryan were amongst the goalscorers again but the star of the show was hat-trick heroine Gillian McKenna.
With such scoring power on both sides, patrons at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds seem certain to be in store for a belter.
All-Ireland U16B Championship Final
Limerick v Offaly
Gaelic Grounds, 1.30pm
Limerick and Offaly are looking to build on the good work being carried out at ground level within both counties by claiming what would be a morale-boosting All-Ireland title in the curtain-raiser at the Gaelic Grounds.
Home venue is sure to be a significant advantage for the Shannonsiders, who blitzed Waterford by 3-18 to 2-7 in their semi-final a fortnight ago. Caoimhe Costelloe and Aoife Wilson inflicted much of the damage in that encounter and the local support will be hoping that they can produce more of the same against Offaly.
The Faithful have made significant progress at adult level in recent years and it seems that the production line continues to run. A gutsy victory over Wexford by the minimum margin helped them clear the penultimate hurdle.
Rachael Brennan and Christine Cleary pounced for the match-winning goals against the Model County’s finest and with Offaly fresh from booking a place in the Leinster final as well last weekend, they are sure to make a bold bid for honours.
All-Ireland U16C Championship Final
Carlow v Down
Carlow and Down will bring plenty of colour and pageantry to Donaghmore-Ashbourne’s fine facilities as they contest the All-Ireland U16 final.
Carlow are managed by former star Mary Nolan and Kevin Regan, who was a county minor hurler two years ago.
They have clearly put a lot of work into this team and the players have responded, beating Kildare, Mayo, Kerry and Wicklow to book a semi-final berth. Meath provided the opposition in that encounter but Carlow showed that they had character to go with their undoubted ability, prevailing by four points in a real dogfight.
Although losing to Meath in the round-robin series, Down accounted for Roscommon and Cavan to set up a semi-final against Westmeath. Displaying an admirable quality of shining when the need is greatest, the Mourne girls produced their best performance of the campaign to date to beat the Lakesiders by two goals.
Noreen Keown’s charges have been targeting a place in the final all year and though Carlow have a victory over the only team to have beaten Down (Meath) under the belts, the Ulster representatives appear to be peaking at just the right time.