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PHELIM Macken’s Limerick Camogie team face into their biggest test of the year on Saturday in Ardfinnan (Co. Tipperary) when they take on Wexford in the semi-final of the Gala All-Ireland intermediate championship (throw-in 2.30pm).

While Derry and Offaly meet in the other semi-final Limerick’s game against Wexford promises to be a titanic affair. Derry topped Limerick’s group after the round robin phase of the competition during which the Shannonsiders beat Tipperary (2-12 to 0-5) and drew with Cork (2-7 apiece), but lost to Derry (0-11 to 2-8) – For their part Wexford topped their group beating Offaly (1-10 to 1-8), Kilkenny (4-20 to 0-6) and Galway (6-5 to 1-6).

Phelim Macken leads the Limerick management team which also comprises Toby Kavanagh, Ita Richardson and Jimmy Moynihan.
“”Obviously, it an All-Ireland semi-final and so it’s a very big games for us,”” Phelim Macken told Leader Sport this week.

“”The possibility of playing in Croke Park is also very attractive, all the girls want to play there and I think that when it was confirmed that the intermediate final would be played alongside the junior and senior finals in Dublin on the same day it did make a big difference. All the girls want to play there so it’s not hard to motivate them for the match against Wexford.””

Interestingly the sides met in the league last March and served up an absolute cracker of a game which Wexford won 3-11 to 2-8. That result doesn’t concern Phelim Macken however.

“”We would not necessarily be worried about Wexford,”” Phelim Macken said.

“”We played against them in the league and although we lost we were not at our best, not anything near our best. We had a lot of players out that day, but now we have all our players back and we’re really looking forward to this challenge.””

Limerick’s preparations for this season were dealt a severe blow in April when the outstanding Niamh Mulcahy broke her wrist. Niamh has now recovered from that injury, but the fact that Limerick won the Munster intermediate title (beating Cork 2-11 to 2-8 in the final) without the Ahane star proved a significant turning point in this campaign.

“”Winning the Munster title was huge,”” Phelim Macken explained.

“”The Munster win gave the girls a lot of confidence. Over the last couple of years the girls got a fair fewclippings and that really affected how they felt about themselves, but this year they’re getting the confidence back again.””

The majority of the Limerick squad won All-Ireland intermediate honours in 2007 and while the Shannonsiders face into this semi-final as underdogs, Phelim Macken is more than hopeful of making an appearance in next month’s final at Croke Park.

“”The main thing about losing to Wexford that day in the league was that we were so disappointed with our own performance. We only lost by six points, but we didn’t play like I know we can. This weekend the people who travel to Ardfinnan to support us will see a very different Limerick. We have really come on as a team since then. There is serious competition for places now and unfortunately there will be plenty of disappointed girls when we announce the team this week, but that’s a healthy position to be in. All the girls are putting their hand up to play, it will be difficult to pick the starting fifteen.””
Squad: SÝle Moynihan (Ahane), Niamh Richardson (Murroe-Boher), Sarah Collins (Ballyagran), Janet Garvey (Tournafulla), Sarah Carey (Granagh-Ballingarry), Catriona Davis (Kileedy), Claire Mulcahy (Ahane), Deirdre Fitzpatrick (Killedy), Joanne O’Gorman (Feenagh-Kilmeedy), Eileen O’Brien (Granagh-Ballingarry), Niamh Mulcahy (Ahane), Kerrie Brosnan (Ballyagran), Orla Curtin (Kinvara ), Vera Sheehan (Granagh-Ballingarry) Kristy Carroll (Galbally), Caroline Scanlon (Kileedy), Aoife Sheehan (Granagh-Ballingarry), Fiona Moloney (Kilmallock), Mairead Fitzgerald (Granagh-Ballingarry), Aisling Enright (Bruff), Judith Mulcahy (Ahane), Mary O’Callaghan (Bruff), Mairead Ryan (Galbally), Michelle Casey (Kileedy), Katie Campbell (Na Piarsaigh), Aideen McNamara (Na Piarsaigh), Claire Casey (Na Piarsaigh) & Caitrin De Bhal (Ballyagran).

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