By Niall Gartland
ULSTER teams – with the notable exceptions of Armagh and Tyrone – will be hoping for a better outcome when they participate in their round two Ladies National League clashes this weekend.
Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan, Down and Derry all slipped up in their opening round matches while Antrim and Fermanagh, both Division Four teams, still have to wait a week for their campaigns to get up and running.
Maxi Curran’s Donegal travelled to Galway, losing out by 0-11 to 0-6, and they face an extremely tough assignment this Sunday in Letterkenny against All-Ireland Senior Champions Meath.
In saying that, it’s a winnable game for Donegal as Meath are without some of their key players at the moment and lost by six points to Dublin in their own first-round clash.
Defensive duo Emma Troy and Aoibheann Leahy (both travelling) are unavailable for the year, but AFLW duo Vikki Wall and Orlagh Lally should return at some point.
The Royals are still the team to beat so Donegal will definitely want to put their best foot forward this weekend.
Despite their defeat to Galway, there also were positives for Donegal with Shannon McGroddy and Catherine Boyle back on the panel.
Shauna Higgins, Codie Walsh, and Ava Walsh all got exposed to league football for the first time and should be the better for the experience going forward.
Tyrone got off to a promising start with a 0-15 to 0-12 victory on home turf against Roscommon in Division Two, and they travel to Monaghan on Sunday, a side looking to bounce back after a lop-sided defeat to Laois last weekend.
The Red Hands will be pleased with their three-point win over the Rossies with Niamh Hughes, Grainne Rafferty, Maria Canavan and Emma Jane Gervin all keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
Gerry Moane’s Cavan won’t be too worried just yet after losing by 2-8 to 0-5 to a strong Armagh side, but they won’t get anything easy in their second round fixture against Tipperary, a team with plenty of pedigree.
The Breffni County have a number of seasoned campaigners and it’ll be interesting to see how they get on.
The Mourne ladies found the going tough in their Division Three clash against the Lilywhites, while their second round opponents Sligo will also be smarting after coming out a distinct second best against Clare.
Derry, meanwhile, had a poor day at the office in their first outing of the year, a heavy defeat to Leitrim, and are bidding to atone in a home clash against Wicklow.