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Fermanagh and Down ladies meet in Ulster showdown

By Niall Gartland

ULSTER LADIES INTERMEDIATE CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Fermanagh v Down

Saturday, Páirc Esler, 1pm

FERMANAGH Ladies will be hoping to set aside the disappointment of relegation when they meet Down in this weekend’s Ulster Intermediate Championship final.

Jonny Garrity’s side will be bitterly disappointed to drop back down to Division Four having lost a relegation clash against Wicklow last weekend by a single point.

They moved ahead by three points heading into the closing stages with Eimear Smyth running riot in attack, but when she was sent to the sin bin with 10 minutes remaining, Wicklow took full advantage..

It was a crying shame for Fermanagh as they’d been generally very competitive in their league campaign, but at least they now have the chance of claiming some silverware.

It’s the second time these two teams have met this season as they already met in Division Three. On that occasion it was a really close contest at Brewster Park but the Down ladies prevailed by 1-17 to 2-12. The first-half was a stop-start affair littered with frees and poor kick-passing, but the game improved immeasurably after the break. Natasha Ferris top scored for Down with a commendable 0-10 to her name, while Jessica Foy wasn’t far behind with a personal tally of 1-6.

In the last few years, both these teams have shown considerable improvements, but Fermanagh have more experience of playing on the biggest stage having featured in three All-Ireland Junior finals, winning twice. Down are searching for their first piece of silverware under Caoibhe Sloan and Peter Lynch, so they’ll be glad that there’s an Ulster Intermediate title on offer this year. They’ve had more time to look at their opposition, and Fermanagh may feel a little wounded this week, so that makes Down the favourites to prevail.

Verdict: Down

ULSTER LADIES JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Antrim v Derry

Saturday, Davitt Park Belfast, 5pm

PUTTING it mildly, these are two teams who know each other inside out.

They seem to play each other multiple times a year, and Derry actually beat the Saffrons in the UIster Junior final back in 2018.

However, the Saffrons carry the better form heading into this Saturday’s match and won out fairly comfortably against the Oak Leafers in Division Four of the league.

In a recent interview with Gaelic Life, new Derry ladies manager Odhran McNeilly said he and his players weren’t reaching for the panic button despite a disappointing league campaign. Their poor run of results will be effectively forgotten about if they snatch a victory against Antrim, but they’ll need to find a way to curtail the influence of players like Áine Tubridy and Lara Dahunsi.

In reality, there isn’t much between these two teams, and they both fared similarly well in their respective defeats to Division Four standard-bearers Louth this season. Antrim will still be favourites to take home the trophy.

Verdict: Antrim

Jonny Garrity 012

HOPING TO BOUNCE BACK….Fermanagh Ladies manager Jonny Garrity

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