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By Daragh Ó Conchúir
The second round of games gets under way in the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship this weekend. Pride Round, as the third weekend of action has been titled to promote inclusivity, comprises two games each in Groups 1 and 3.


Cork v Down, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 3pm
Referee: Aaron Hogg (Clare)
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A game of import for both sides, who come into the game with a loss each at the hands of Galway and Clare respectively.

Down have done well to survive at senior level since winning the intermediate championship when Sorcha McCartan was a key contributor. McCartan is now playing with Cork, having moved south but Down can still call on one of the best forwards in camogie Niamh Mallon, as well as Sara-Louise Carr, who returned to the fray after giving birth last year.

Profligacy in front of the posts has been an enduring problem for Cork and it reared its head once more against Galway a fortnight ago. They have been struggling for a high-percentage freetaker since Orla Cotter’s retirement and need to solve that if they are to make a fifth consecutive national final, and end the run of losing the last four.

Katrina Mackey will strip fitter for her excellent comeback in the opening round however and anything other than a home win would represent a mammoth shock.


Clare v Galway, Cusack Park, 5pm
Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny)

With both having recorded first-round victories, the winner will be assured of a place in the last six and at least a quarter-final spot.

Galway will be expected to prevail, having progressed nicely through the season, winning the League despite being without some big names. Of course they started that campaign with defeat to Clare but produced some significant results when their backs were to the wall, notably against All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, then Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh to qualify for the decider, and then over the Rebels again to claim the title.

With some of those absentees returned, such as Siobhán McGrath, they improved in the second half after a poor opening to continue their supremacy over Cork in the first round but in stark contrast, Clare’s win over Down was badly needed after a heavy defeat in the Munster final against Tipp, having failed to build on that brilliant League start. They have everything to play for here.


Antrim v Offaly, Roger Casements Portglenone, 3pm
Referee: Philip McDonald (Cavan)
These sides drew in the League, the point being Offaly’s only return as they suffered relegation to Division 2A. The Faithful have been struggling in recent years and while Noelle Kennedy is attempting to lead the rebuild, not having the likes of Kate Kenny to call upon is a considerable blow, though veteran Siobhán Flannery continues to offer her services.

Antrim are an up-and-coming force and last term, looked more than capable of competing at senior level on their return after more than 40 years. This was despite being without the prodigious Maeve Kelly, who remains absent, but the equally talented Róisín McCormick has excelled and as last year’s All-Ireland premier junior success showed, the county has depth now.

Offaly are coming off a 20-point defeat to Waterford while Antrim, who won when the teams clashed in last year’s championship, overcame Limerick, who cost them a place in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final. Victory here and the Saffrons cannot be denied this time.


Limerick v Waterford, Cappamore, 2pm
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)
This pits one of last year’s quarter-finalists against one of the semi-finalists and it is the latter who will go in fancied to take the spoils. If Waterford do so, they will enter the final round of games with qualification assured and able to focus on attempting to top the group.

The Déise went into this season under new management, Seán Power taking over from Derek Lyons after last year’s huge campaign. Power led Waterford to minor and U21 hurling success so is a high-class replacement, who has already steered his new team to the top tier of the League by claiming the Division 1B honours.

They were far too strong for Offaly in the opening round whereas Limerick fell short against Antrim. As a result, the Shannonsiders are in must-win territory.

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