Donegal ladies fate is in own hands


Galway v Donegal

Sunday, Mullingar, 2pm

DONEGAL’S fate is in their own hands heading into their third and final group stage clash.

Maxi Curran’s team made it two-from-two when they claimed a hard fought 1-11 to 0-11 win over Mayo at the weekend, so they top the group heading into Sunday’s clash against Galway.

A draw will be enough to secure a place in the Division One semi-finals, but Galway are a strong side and powered to a convincing 6-13 to 2-7 win over Westmeath on Saturday past.

Donegal’s victory over Mayo was all the more impressive as they played without their key forward Geraldine McLaughlin, who was named to start but was withdrawn on the day after picking up a knock in their first day out. Team captain Niamh McLaughlin stepped up to the plate and then some as she scored a decisive goal from the penalty spot. Matches between these two teams have been close in recent years, but Donegal seem to be very much in form.

Verdict: Donegal


Monaghan v Tyrone

Sunday, Clones, 2pm

DIVISION 2B is on a knife edge ahead of the final round of group stage fixtures. Monaghan kept their semi-final hopes alive with a super, and somewhat unexpected, victory over Armagh at the weekend.

Sub Casey Treanor struck the winning score right at the death as the claimed a 2-11 to 1-13 win at the Athletic Grounds, and any sort of result against Tyrone would ensure they take their place in the last four (and if Cavan beat Armagh, they’ll progress even if they lose to the Red Hands).

Their opponents Tyrone suffered a somewhat disappointing defeat to Cavan at the weekend as they lost by 4-11 to 1-10, but they still have a slim chance of avoiding a relegation fight if they do the business against the Farney county on Sunday.

Their new manager Kevin McCrytal does, however, seem to be playing the long game, as he gave a number of young girls their debuts against Cavan.

Verdict: Monaghan


Cavan v Armagh

Sunday, Kingspan Breffni, 2pm

CAVAN are on the cusp of taking their place in the semi-finals after winning their first two matches, as they top the table with three points to spare on their nearest rivals Armagh and Monaghan.

Gerry Moane’s reign has got off to a great start as they secured victories over Monaghan and Tyrone, and he’ll be particularly pleased that they managed to plunder four goals against the Red Hands.

The Orchard county have a decent chance of reaching the semi-finals as well, but it all depends on how things pan out on the final day. They’ll be disappointed to lose by Monaghan by a point at the weekend, but it could be the shot in the arm they need as they travel to face Cavan this Sunday. They’re still going fairly well and Alex Clarke has been a revelation, scoring three points against Cavan after a fine showing on the first day out against Tyrone. This is a very close one to call; Cavan have home advantage, but Armagh are no mugs.

Verdict: Armagh


Fermanagh v Down

Sunday, Kinawley, 3pm

BOTH these teams are out of the running for a place in the semi-finals as Roscommon and Sligo have already claimed the top two spots, but this is still a must-win game as the losers will end up in the relegation play-offs. Fermanagh and Down will be a little bit disappointed to be in this position as they will feel that they have the talent in their ranks to stay afloat in Division Three. The Mourne county lost their match at the weekend to Roscommon on a scoreline of 5-15 to 3-12, but most of the game was tight and it was 2-9 apiece heading into the final quarter.

Fermanagh, meanwhile, were off form against Sligo and were overly reliant on Eimear Smyth to get their scores (she scored five of her side’s seven points in total). If they don’t up their scoring rate, they’ll probably struggle to get the win they so sorely need against Down.

Verdict: Fermanagh


Louth v Derry

Sunday, Dundalk, 2pm

DERRY are effectively out of the running for a place in the last four after losing their opening two matches by an average of 13 points.

It hasn’t been the start to life that their new management team would have wanted, and they lost their second match of the campaign when they fell to 1-18 to 0-7 to table-toppers Leitrim at the weekend.

Their manager Odhran McNeilly bemoaned some of their wastefulness in front of goals in the early stages when they had been going fairly well, so that’s something they’ll be working on in training as they prepare to face Louth, who were highly impressive in their 4-14 to 0-8 victory over the Saffrons at the weekend.

Verdict: Louth


Antrim v Leitrim

Sunday, TBC, 2pm

THE Saffrons have given themselves a small chance of progression to the semi-finals, but victory over Leitrim mightn’t be enough to prevail depending on how Louth fare against Derry.

Scoring difference may come into play if they upset the odds against Leitrim, which wouldn’t really be in Antrim’s favour. However, the main thing from their perspective is that they’re still in the hunt for promotion even though they lost heavily to Louth at the weekend.

It’s a tall order to beat Leitrim in the first place, however, as they’re the form team in the group and have been particularly ravenous in attack. If they can keep it close on the scoreboard, Antrim will probably be happy enough as preparations for the season were hindered with a late change in management.

Verdict: LeitrimON THE SPOT…Niamh McLaughlin hit an important goal from a penalty in Donegal’s narrow win over Mayo

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