Ulster series hots up

DONEGAL can put their disastrous league campaign behind them and book a spot in the Ulster Ladies SFC when they host Armagh on Sunday.

Maxi Curran’s side were completely out of their depth in Division One, losing all seven games and ending up with a scoring difference of -71.

Yet they still dug in well in their provincial opener with the returning Karen Guthrie hitting 1-4 in their 1-6 to 0-4 win over Cavan at Kingspan Breffni, meaning Niamh McLaughlin’s missed penalty wasn’t costly.

Curran handed debuts to youngsters Abigail Temple Asokuh and Katie Dowds and both produced fine displays to put them in a good spot in the group. Suddenly the picture is not so bleak.

Armagh may have played in a lower division, but they triumphed in Division 2 and will be fancied to get off the mark in Lifford.

Alex Clarke remains a long-term injury absentee although Aoife McCoy, superb during their league, is expected to be available after her recent wedding.

Aimee Mackin has been in her usual brilliant goal-scoring form – grabbing a hat-trick in the league final win over Laois – while Kelly Mallon will be hoping that her season can really ignite in the championship arena. If she’s in form, it’ll be hard to see Donegal stopping the Orchard County.

The pressure is on Monaghan in the intermediate grade as they try and respond to their loss to Tyrone when they host Antrim on Sunday.

The Oriel side went down 1-9 to 1-7 against the Red Hands last week.

Leanne Maguire, who ended with 1-3, had ensured a strong start with a couple of scores, and they led by the minimum at the break.

Tyrone wouldn’t wilt though and when the game was to be won in the final 10 minutes, Monaghan were unable to find the crucial scores to take anything from the game.

The Ulster Junior Championship is already finely poised as Down and Fermanagh played out a draw in the opening fixture.

The Mourne County are back in action on Sunday as they host Derry.

Peter Lynch and Caoibhe Sloan’s side would have been disappointed not to take all three points on offer as they were caught out by a late Blaithin Bogie penalty. They were relieved though to see Aoife Flanagan fire wide when trying to kick a winner for the Erne side.

Captain Meghan Doherty was brilliant while Laoise Duffy top-scored with three of their seven points.

Derry had a tough league campaign in Division 4B, and Down should prove too strong.

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