By Niall Gartland
IT’S set to be another jam-packed weekend in the All-Ireland ladies championship.
Beaten Ulster Champions Armagh will be glad to have got back to winning ways with a hard fought 3-12 to 2-8 victory over Laois, setting them in good stead for their second group stage match this Sunday, a tough looking encounter at home to Mayo. It’s a big tie and will be broadcast live on TG4, and Armagh will be quietly confident after the manner in which they disposed of Laois despite the injury-induced absence of Aimee Mackin.
Tyrone will also be buoyant as they look ahead to their third and final group stage clash against Clare this Sunday. There was significant disappointment in the Red Hand County after they fell short against Antrim in the Ulster Intermediate final, but they’ve bounced back with two wins and have already secured their place in the quarter-finals, with the prize for finishing top of the table a home tie in the last eight.
Monaghan, meanwhile, have had a turbulent season but will take some heart from their five-point defeat to Wexford in their championship opener last weekend. They can still progress to the quarter-finals but face a critical match against Roscommon in Smithborough this Sunday.
The Rossies have also played one game to date, losing by a point to Wexford, so Monaghan will be hopeful of claiming the win even though they’ve had a significant turnover of personnel in recent years. In doing so, they would secure their place in the last eight. Also of comfort is the fact that the game ended a draw when they met Roscommon in an important clash at the tail-end of the league.
The other Ulster teams in action this weekend are Antrim and Cavan. The Saffrons are riding a crest of a wave and claimed a big win over Westmeath a week-and-a-half ago. They host Longford this weekend and will be confident they’ll have the firepower to take that one. Cavan are in the All-Ireland Senior Championship and get their campaign underway against Dublin, who will be bidding to get up and running after losing their only game to date, a narrow defeat to an in-form Kerry side.