Irish Daily Star Division Four Final
Cavan v Westmeath, Donaghmore Ashbourne, 1pm
The Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 4 final presents Cavan and Westmeath with a wonderful opportunity to gain some morale-boosting silverware before they head into the championship.
The Lakesiders are looking to go one step better than the past two seasons. They were just edged out by three points by Kildare in 2009 despite going in at half time three goals in arrears and missing a second half penalty.
Last year, Tyrone beat them by nine points but they turned that disappointment around earlier this month in Collinstown when having a goal to spare over the Red Hands’ finest at the end of a thrilling encounter that finished 5-5 to 3-8 in their favour.
Prior to that, Westmeath got their campaign under way with a one-goal victory over Cavan at 3G Breffni Park and they are sure to draw on the memory of that successful journey in the build up to the decider.
For their part, Cavan displayed their credentials in the opening round on home turf way back in February when they tore Tyrone asunder, rattling the net four times to win by 10 points, courtesy of a 4-10 to 2-6 scoreline.
The Breffni unit seems determined to accumulate some more silverware this year, having won the Ulster B title last season but the campaign was tainted some bit by the subsequent defeat to their victims in the provincial final, Monaghan, in the All-Ireland junior B decider. It represented a significant step forward however and with the long-serving Marie Brady driving them on, they will provide tough opposition.
Westmeath have their own pain though and the fear of losing a third Division 4 final will either cripple them or spur them to victory. They have already had cause to celebrate this year with the election of Aileen Lawlor as president-elect of the camogie association. Maybe this will be their year.
Irish Daily Star Division Three League Final
Kildare v Meath, Donaghmore Ashbourne, 3pm
Kildare and Meath provide an intriguing pairing for the Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 3 final.
The Lilywhites have gathered incredible momentum in recent seasons, winning the Division 4 league in 2009 before taking it up a level last year, when they annexed the Leinster championship as a launching pad to claiming All-Ireland junior A honours against Armagh.
Tom O’Mahoney’s charges have carried that form through to this year, following up a battling opening round defeat of the Orchard girls with comfortable successes against Roscommon and Dublin.
The Royals also had those three scalps to their credit before coming out on top in a bit of a phony war between the already-decided finalists by 2-9 to 1-9. Both managers indulged in some experimentation in that tie three weeks ago but the result did mark the end of a 13-match unbeaten run for Kildare.
Meath are the more experienced unit, and were playing at a higher level in last year’s championships when reaching the All-Ireland premier junior semi-final.
They have numerous talented operators in their ranks including the deadly Soaring Star Jane Dolan, Louise Donoghue, Edel Guy and Fiona O’Neill. John Davis can also call on a strong substitutes’ bench and is likely to need the full extent of that depth if his team is to prevail.
Defender Regina Gorman was the Lilies’ Soaring Star representative last season and in Susie O’Carroll and R¾isÝn O’Connell they possess a very real scoring threat, while captain Niamh Breen and Siobhßn Hurley are others who can be relied upon when the game is in the melting pot.
It is this knowledge and familiarity with the tension of major finals that could turn matters Kildare’s way even though Meath are used to playing at a higher level for longer. The only certainty is that the result will be in doubt right to the end.