Saturday, 1pm in Casement Park
Ulster Colleges’ Corn Uan Uladh Final (Senior A)
St Patrick’s Maghera v Cross & Passion Ballycastle
It hasn’t been often that the Ulster Colleges’ camogie champions are being considered as true contenders for the All-Ireland Senior title.
But after Cross & Passion’s eclipse of the All-Ireland Junior (under 16) A crown two seasons ago, schools are looking north to monitor their progress.
No less interesting are their provincial final opponents St Patrick’s Maghera, who contested the national under 16 final themselves in March and who disposed of the holders St Mary’s Magherafelt with an emphatic 3-12 to 0-4 scoreline last week.
In fact this is the first time in 17 seasons that Magherafelt have not reached the provincial final and for the last 4 finals, Ballycastle have been there.
Maghera lost narrowly to Ballycastle in the league stages, but they were short one or two players for that tie.
Ballycastle will argue that their Loughgiel continguent had not been in training with the school side when the teams met.
Ballycastle include four of that Loughgiel side that contested the All-Ireland club semi-final last month – Aine and Laura Connolly, Aisling McFadden agus Emma McMullan.
However the club run has cost the school the services of captain Aine Connolly, who picked up an injury in Athenry.
10 of Saturday’s line-out were on the successful Senior side two seasons ago that took the Cup, including Rebecca Walsh, Emma Connor and Samantha McKillen – all current Colleges’ All-stars.
Maghera also have current All-stars in Grainne McNicholl and Karen Kielt, the latter entering her third season with the Derry seniors despite being short of her 17th birthday.
Both are in the forward line, but there is also excellent defenders in Noleen McKenna, Siobhan McKaigue and Mary B McGilligan, while the Cassidy sisters from Slaughtneil are a formidable midfield partnership.
Two years ago, a young hungry Ballycastle side upset the odds to win the title. Last year, a little older they lost it in Casement Park to St Mary’s.
If they have learnt enough from those experiences and show the hunger of their breakthrough title, they can deliver on their promise.
St Patrick’s : Jolene Bradley, Shaunine O’Kane, Noleen McKenna, Rebecca Ferguson, Mary B McGilligan, Siobhßn McKaigue capt., Grßinne O’Kane, +ilÝs NÝ Chaiside, Aoife NÝ Chaiside, Mary Kelly, Grßinne McNicholl, Caoimhe Moran, Karen Kielt, Shannon Kearney, Shauna Quinn.
Subs : Emma Agnew, Catherine McCloskey, Danielle Quinn, Niamh McQuillan, Maeve Quinn, Caoimhe Quinn, Nuala Convery, Orla McGillian, Maria Taggart, Aneica Duffy, Teresa McElroy, Faoiltiarna Ward.
Cross & Passion : Louise Watt, Maria Donnelly, Emma Connor, Niamh Donnelly, Michaela Beattie, Laura Connolly, Aoife Laverty, Kerry Smyth, Maeve McCouaig, Rebecca Walsh, Francine McFarlane, Nicole Dobbin, Samantha McKillen, Aisling McFadden, Emma McMullan.
Subs : Caoimhe McShane, Melissa Smyth, Orla O’Hara, Julie McKillen, Joanne Gallagher, Justine Kelly, Eimear McGuckian, Orla Donnelly, Shannon McCarry, Catriona Maybin, Aine Connolly capt., Claire Neill.
Saturday, 11am in Casement Park
Ulster Colleges’ Fr Davies Cup final (Senior B)
St Patrick’s Keady v St Colm’s Draperstown
There has been a tradition in the Fr Davies’ Cup final that the losing finalists usually return for success the following season.
St Patrick’s Keady will hope that this maxim applies on Saturday in Casement Park as the concession of six goals at the same venue last year saw their title hopes extinguished.
They have bounced back though from the set-back and are arguably stronger than 12 months ago.
Ballymacnab’s Amy Lavery moves from full-forward to full-back and captains the side, while there are further positional switches throughout the team in comparison to 2008.
The mainstays though will still be Eadaoin Murphy, Orla Murray, Hannah McGeown and Amy McAtavey.
If they are to win they will need to overturn a league defeat to new kids on the block St Colm’s Draperstown.
St Colm’s have been the success story of Ulster Colleges’ camogie over the past season. They took their first ever Senior title (Division 3) this time last year and then went right through to collect the All-Ireland title for the grade, the first ever Ulster winners.
This season they have built on that success by going through all their matches in the higher division undefeated.
And the remarkable statistic is that all but Paula McElwee in their entire panel are drawn from the Ballinascreen club. Paula plays with Swatragh, a club that brought provincial medals for her mother Patsie Quinn.
Many of the All-Ireland side of earlier this year are back in search of more glory.
Defence has traditionally been the strong point of the team, with few teams able to pick off too many scores against them.
Here Bronagh McGillian, Gemma Conway, and Charlene Scullion are the experience. At midfield, Mary T McCullagh and Grace Kelly should really put it up to Orla Curry and Amy McAtavy, while up front captain Mary Jo McCullagh is a formidable presence.
It is difficult seeing this final being the goal-fest it was last year – 8 goals. If it turns out to be low-scoring, there would appear to be a few more options up front in the Keady side, although Mary Jo will get a fair quota of scores for St Colm’s.
St Colm’s have a winning habit and that is often hard to beat. A cautious nod towards Draperstown.
St Patrick’s : Aisling Murphy, Brenda Rafferty, Amy Lavery capt., Laura McGeown, Hannah McGeown, Petrina Cosgrove, Megan Grimley, Amy McAtavey, Orla Curry, Orla Murray, Eadaoin Murphy, Caoimhe Smyth, Michelle Morgan, Claire Gormley, Nicola Woods.
Subs : Kirsty Sheridan, Aoife Murphy, Roisin Hughes, Shauna Dougan, Catherine McCooey, Rosie McClelland, Arlene Haughey, Ciara McGuigan, Judith McArdle, Catherine Connolly, Rachael Powell, Maeve Toner, Cait McGivern, Jane Lavery, Paula Nugent, Caoimhe Short.
St Colm’s : Kathryn McNamee, Gemma Conway, Charlene Scullion, LeeAnne Grant, Paula McElwee, Br¾nagh McGillian, Teresa Bradley, Grace Kelly, Mary T McCullagh, Kelly Marie Hegarty, Aimee Kelly, Patrina McBride, Caitriona McBride, Mary Jo McCullagh capt., Louise Murphy.
Subs : Teresa Kelly, Shannon O’Hagan, -ine Gallagher, Laoise McNulty, Ciarria Grugan, Mary Hegarty, Noleen McBride, Karen McWilliams
Medallion Centre Senior Shield (Senior C) – Sarsfields, Belfast, 1pm
St Patrick’s Dungiven v St Louis Kilkeel
There is a novel pairing in the Ulster Colleges’ Senior Medallion Shield final in Sarsfields.
St Louis Kilkeel lost last season’s final to eventual All-Ireland champions St Colm’s Draperstown and they now find another Derry school, St Patrick’s Dungiven, standing in their way of success in the competition.
Many of last year’s panel are back in action in search of that elusive title including Colleen Fearon who picked up an Ulster Colleges’ All-star last year.
Indeed there a quite a number of the Kilkeel panel who have experience of playing outside their county with no fewer than seven on the Down minor panel last year including Erin McDowell who was county captain.
This team is captained by Longstone’s Danielle Harrison, a player strongly tipped to break into the county Senior set-up later this year.
Other key players are Nuala Fitzpatrick and Nicole Hughes in defence, Laura Sloan who partners Colleen Fearon at midfield and Sophie Colgan at full-forward.
Dungiven would not just be as experienced although Eimear Mullan was on the Derry minor side that narrowly lost the Ulster final a month ago.
She is joined in the side by her two sisters Orlaith and Niamh, while there is another set of sisters in the full-back line – team captain Geraldine McCloskey and her younger sibling Louise.
Caoimhe Lynch and Caoimhe Moore are also strong players for the side, who have made good progress under the astute eye of former Ulster star Sarah McNicholl.
St Patrick’s contested the under 16 final last month but fell to St Columba’s Portaferry and won’t want to lose another big match to opposition from the same county.
Whether or not St Patrick’s student Eoghan Quigg makes it to support his classmates, Dungiven might just need that X factor to overturn a Kilkeel outfit that will enter the game as slight favourites.
St Patrick’s : Megan McDermott, Louise McCloskey, Geraldine McCloskey capt, Ailish Carlin, Aiveen McCormick, Eimear Mullan, Clare McAteer, Richeal Archibald, Caoimhe Moore, Aine Crossan, Caoimhe Lynch, Leanne Hasson, Blinne Hogan, Orlaith Mullan, Niamh Mullan.
Subs : Emma McCormick, Orlagh McLaughlin, Emma Heaveron, Naomi Peoples, Cliona Logue, Eimear Leake, Bronagh McCallion, Shauna Doherty , Naomi Bradley.
St Louis : Ciara Morgan, Orlagh McParland, Erin McDowell, Nicole Hughes, Caoimhe Poland, Nuala Fitzpatrick, Colleen Magee, Colleen Fearon, Laura Sloan,
Carrie Killen, Danielle Harrison capt., Noelle Fearon, Christina Trainor, Sophie Colgan, Denise Trimble.
Subs : Rosie Quinn, Rachel Colgan, Nicole Grant, Rosalie Caldwell, Anthea Trainor, Catrina Burden, Anna Trainor, Caroline Rooney, Emer McParland, Emily Keenan, Ella Colgan, Kirsty Fitzpatrick, Lauren Byrne