Ladies IFC: Lynch hoping to be back with Down ladies

All-Ireland Ladies Championship Round Three Group Three

Down v Leitrim

Saturday, Inniskeen, 1pm

By Niall Gartland

DOWN ladies joint-manager Peter Lynch hopes that he’ll get a chance to continue the progress made under his and Caoibhe Sloan’s tutelage.

Fate seemed to conspire against them in this, their second season in charge, but on closer analysis they seem to be plotting an upwards curve with the Down ladies.

This weekend’s group stage clash against Leitrim is effectively a dead rubber tie after they lost to Meath on their first day out, but they only lost by two points even though the Royals are one of the tournament favourites.

Moreover, they had a brilliant league campaign in the spring and were on the cusp of reaching the Division Three final before the fixtures were pulled.

They never got the chance to finished their league campaign, and Lynch hopes to be back in charge next year alongside Caoibhe Sloan.

“We’d certainly hope to be, if they have us! I think the thing Down needed when we came in was a defensive structure in place because they’d shipped a lot of scores in previous years and it had really cost them.

“It took a while to get that established, and we thought things had been coming together well in the league.mBut then the pandemic struck and you had six months where players were missing collective training, and it almost felt like we were refreshing what we’d already done when we came back.

“The likes of Meath are further down the line than us, but we feel we’re getting there and after another year we might be up around that level.”

Covid-19 basically dictated the structure of this year’s All-Ireland Championship. Down are in a group of three, with only one team progressing, and losing to Meath was a hammerblow to their chances of reaching the All-Ireland semi-finals.

They had a lot of players missing between injuries and self-isolation, but they put in a commendable performance on the day, losing out by 0-11 to 1-6.

Lynch said: “I suppose Meath and Westmeath are considered the front-runners. When the draw was made we felt that whoever’s going to win this Intermediate All-Ireland will have to beat Meath to do it, and maybe the best shot at them might be on day one

“Conditions were poor and in fairness Meath probably adapted to them a wee bit better than we did so, they were able to tag on few points in the second-half against the wind.”

Leitrim played in Division Four this year and have already shipped a heavy beating to Meath in the championship, so Down will be hopeful of ending their season with a victory. Lynch still says it’s a shame the leagues weren’t concluded.

“It would’ve been nice if the league had merely been postponed rather than pulled. Iif we had have finished that as the precursor to championship it might have helped get a bit of momentum going. It’s even so difficult to get challenge games with covid issues and teams not keen on travelling, but it’s the same for everyone. We’ve just had to try to do the best we can in the circumstances.”

THERE’S no room for error in this year’s All-Ireland Ladies Championship and Donegal find themselves with very little to play for in Sunday’s group stage clash against Waterford (Cusack Park, 1pm).

Maxi Curran’s side went hell-for-leather on their first day out against All-Ireland champions Dublin knowing defeat would rule out their chances of a last-four spot, but they were undone by a freakish goal from Sinead Aherne and lost out by 2-13 to 2-10.

To their credit, Donegal didn’t buckle after the concession of that goal (whereby a pointed effort, hit off the right-hand upright and somehow ended up in the back of the net on a gusty night at Breffni Park), but their late rally ultimately fell short.

Their opponents Waterford are very much in the same boat after falling four points short against Dublin, but both teams will still want to end their season on a relative high.

Elsewhere, the Cavan ladies are in action against heavy-hitters Cork (Sunday, Birr, 1pm). They were trounced by Kerry a fortnight ago so they are effectively out of the running, but it’s still a big game as Cork are bidding to book their place in the semi-finals.

Ephie Fitzgerald’s side earned an important four-point victory over Kerry at the weekend, but they’ll probably need at least a draw if they’re to secure a semi-final spot.


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