Derry and Fermanagh at home on the first weekend of NFL action

SUNDAY will see the start of the Ladies NFL action for the season with four Division Four games down for session.

Both Ulster teams, Derry and Fermanagh, are on home soil hoping for a positive start.

Kilkenny v Leitrim; MW Hire Training Centre, Dunmore 

A big margin separated the counties when they met in the 2023 Lidl National League – and Kilkenny will be hoping to close the gap.

Having contested last year’s Final, Leitrim will be determined to go one better and get their hands on divisional silverware this time.

Ace forward Michelle Guckian captains the Leitrim team from centre forward and the Connacht outfit will be confident of making their trip to Kilkenny a winning one.

The hosts, who returned to the Lidl National League in 2023, will aim to be more competitive this year as they continue their progress.

Kilkenny: K Fitzpatrick; A Ring, A Galwey, S Smith; J O’Keeffe, A O’Neill, K Brennan; K Comerford, R Roche, E Lawlor (capt.), N Ward, C Moore; R Roche, H Brennan, K Ryan.

Leitrim: M Monaghan; E McHugh, C Tyrrell, C Owens; E Moyles, K Bruen, O Flynn; N Tighe, A Quinn; V Egan, M Guckian (capt.), S Quinn; B O’Reilly, A Fowley, A Redican.

Limerick v Wicklow; Feohanagh/Castlemahon GAA 

Limerick were beaten Lidl NFL Division 4 semi-finalists last year, before going all the way to a TG4 All-Ireland Junior Final.

The Shannonsiders lost out to Down at Croke Park but they’ll be confident of featuring in the shake-up for national honours again this year.

On paper, Limerick are an impressive outfit with a nice blend of youth and experience, while Wicklow, who finished third in Division 4B last year, will also aim to make an impact in the fourth tier.

This seasonal opener should offer some early clues as to the capabilities and hopes of both counties in the weeks and months to come.

Limerick: C Bateman; J McGuire, Y Lee (capt.), R Browne; D Murphy, E Woulfe, G Lee; C Mee, G Mullane; K O’Leary, A O’Sullivan, L Browne; I Kennelly, C McGrath, L Coughlan.

 Wicklow: E Griffin; M Corr, L Dunne, M Healy; N Cullen, S Goetelen, S Evans; S.J. Winders (capt.), A Gorman; N Caffrey, S McGettigan, E Bourke; C Murphy, E Parke, E O’Brien. 

Fermanagh v Longford, Donagh 

Fermanagh reached the Division 4 semi-finals last year and they also featured in the last four of the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship.

Captain Shannan McQuade is on the comeback trail after injury and she’s named on the bench for this home opener against Longford.

The visitors suffered relegation from Division 2 of the Lidl National League last year, before suffering a similar fate in the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship.

The Leinster outfit will look to rebuild this year in Division 4 and in the Junior Championship ranks.

Fermanagh: R Gleeson; C Clarke, M McGloin, E Keenan; S Gunn, C Murphy, E Finlay-McGovern; S Feeley, B Bannon; B Bogue, L Maguire, C Bogue; E Maguire, L Grew, N McManus.

Longford: A Cooney; A Brady, G Kenny, L Shannon; R McGee, C McCormack (capt.), E Reilly; S Gallagher, S Hagan; C McKeon, J Whyte, S Macken; E Lynn, N Brady, K Shannon.

Derry v Carlow, Celtic Park, 3pm  

 Carlow finished outside the League semi-final places in 2023 but they did make it again to the last four of the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship series.

With 2021 ZuCar Golden Boot winner Clíodhna Ní Shé in tow, Carlow will have a chance against any opponent, while Rachel Sawyer and Sara Doyle are other top-class attackers.

Carlow have undoubted firepower and can be a force in League and Championship if they can avoid injuries to key players.

Derry, who begin their season at home, will be hoping for better fortunes in 2024. The Oak Leafers won one of their four League fixtures last year, against Kilkenny.

 Derry: E Conway; H Mullan, A McGough, J Corr (capt.); A Crozier, K Holly, M Devine; C Scullion, B Donnelly; O McGeough, Emma Doherty, A Martin; Erin Doherty, C Donnelly, C Moore.

Carlow: N Hanley; A Carroll, A Roche, S McCullagh; R Bermingham (capt.), N Murphy, N Forde; M Townsend, R Bailey; E Hayden, B Nolan, S Doyle; R Sawyer, M O’Neill, C Ni Shé.   

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