LADIES GAA | Intermediate Championship Preview: Kilkerley/’Hill combination looks strong but Fechin’s may have a big say

25th Louth Ladies Championship begins this Sunday

Sinead Woods in action for the Dowdallshill/Kilkerley combination against St Kevin’s in the Division Two final. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

The 25th Louth Ladies GAA Championship gets underway on Sunday, August 6th with the first round of games in the intermediate grade.

Clan na Gael, St Fechin’s, Mattock Rangers, Naomh Martin/Glen Emmets and Naomh Fionnbarra will fight it out in group one with O’Raghallaigh’s, Kilkerley/Dowdallshill, Dreadnots and Glyde Rangers in group two.

The top two teams from each group will contest the semi-finals with the opening round of fixtures scheduled to be played on Sunday, August 6th.

Intermediate Championship Group One

Clan na Gael

The Clans possess an exciting young team who have made big strides in recent times under the astute management of Gerry Curran and they can take much confidence from a good league season.

The Dundalk side very unlucky to lose by a one-point margin to Mattock Rangers in a brilliant Division Three League final.

Clan na Gael Ladies. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Their hopes haven’t been helped by the absence of their inspirational defender Therese Curran but have some very exciting up and coming stars in county minor Ciara Woods, the McLaughlin sisters, Alanna and Shannon, Kellie Hughes and Kathy O’Reilly.

Winning the Intermediate Championship might be a step too far but they will be competitive in a very strong group.

The Castletown side will also meet O’Raghallaigh’s in the Junior Championship decider.

Mattock Rangers

Pat Dunne’s side will go into this competition full of confidence after coming from behind to pip the Clans in the recent Division Three League final.

Much will depend on the fitness of their star forward Maria Reid who has been dogged by injury in recent times.

Mattock Rangers Ladies. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Her value was clearly evident when she came off the bench in that final to hit eight points as the Collon side emerged victors by a single point.

They have other quality performers in the likes of Niamh Reid Dooley, Nicola Noone, Grainne Reid, and Rebecca Levins and will pose a threat.

St Fechin’s

St Fechin’s go into this year’s Intermediate Championship strongly fancied by many observers to make amends for last year when they went down to an agonising one point defeat to St Brides in the final.

They performed very well in this season’s Division One League and were very unlucky to go down to a narrow defeat to Stabannon in the semi final.

Ciara Nolan in action for St Fechin’s in their league match against Stabannon earlier this year. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

The Termonfeckin side have five members of the county panel: Roisin Kavanagh, Ceire Nolan, Catherine McGlew, Sara Moore and Rebecca Howell as well as the experienced trio of Pamela Campbell, Hazel Haughney and Sharon McDermott to call on.

Naomh Fionnbarra

The Naomh Fionnbarra ladies team was established in 2007 and two years later they won the Division Three League title.

The Togher club moved up to the intermediate grade in 2011 after beating St Brides in the 2010 Junior Championship final.

A season later, Naomh Fionnbarra again won the Division Three League and have remained in the Division Two League since.

Naomh Fionnbarra Ladies

2016 was a disappointing year which saw few wins on the board but this year has been much better with the Barrs’ reaching the league semi final.

The new management team of Mark McArdle, Niall Campbell and Andrew Rodgers have improved the girls’ confidence immensely.

Captain Ellen Butterly and veteran Maria Butterly will control the defence with their encouraging words of wisdom while Jenny Devlin is a dominant figure in midfield while Laura Sharkey is one of the grade’s most dangerous forwards.

Naomh Martin/Glen Emmets

The south Louth combination are the outsiders in a tough group which contains a number of big hitters and endured a disappointing league campaign in which they failed to make the semi-finals.

Rachel Callan was a notable absentee from their team during the league and having her back for the championship is a big boost.

Naomh Máirtín’s Rachel Callan, Alan McMahon and Sandra Callan. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Their panel is a mixture of youth and experience; strong in defence with goalie Anna Clarke, Irene Kavanagh and Gemma Finnegan. Megan McGinn and Louth star Aoife Russell form a strong midfield pairing while up front Ciara Matthews is always a threat.

They open their campaign with a difficult trip to neighbours Mattock Rangers and follow that with a visit from favorites St Fechin’s.

Intermediate Championship Group Two

Kilkerley/Dowdallshill

On paper Kilkerley/Dowdallshill are second favourites to win the Intermediate Championship after a very good Division Two League campaign where they lost out to a strong St Kevin’s team at the last hurdle.

They have county stars Una Pearson and Janine Kelly to call on, while the Lennon sisters, Fiona and Claire, are hugely important to the north Louth side.

Kilkerley/Dowdallshill. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Elsewhere, the pace and power of Sinead Woods nicely supplements some of their young stars of the future such as Ciara Brady.

This side looks like genuine contenders with their group opponents unlikely to take too much out of them.

Dreadnots

The glory days of 2013 when the Clogherhead girls won the Junior Championship and league in some style must seem like a distant memory now as the south Louth side are in a rebuilding process with many of that fine team no longer available for a number of reasons.

Two of the stars of that year, the experienced Kelly Cunningham and Ellis Briggs, are the most significant absentees.

They do have experienced players like Zara McEvoy and Olivia Kirwan in the ranks, to go along with young guns Olivia Monaghan and Lauren Reilly and

will fancy their chances in their first outing against Glyde where victory may be enough to book a semi final place.

Glyde Rangers

Andria McConnon and Annabell Kearney of Glyde Rangers. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Stephen Sherlock’s side were hit hard by injuries this season with as many as six to seven players missing on a regular basis with injury.

As a result, Glyde lost all of their league matches but the Meath native hopes to have most of his walking wounded back on board for the championship, including county star Michelle McMahon.

Glyde had a decent run in the recent seven-a-side competition and showed up well in recent challenge games.

Their opening round clash with Dreadnots will be crucial to their hopes of equalling last year’s run to the semi finals.

O’Raghallaigh’s

The O’Raghallaigh’s side are through to the junior final where they will meet the Clans in what will be a wonderful occasion for this very young team.

The Drogheda side will also take part in the intermediate grade where they will come up against some experienced sides like Dreadnots, Kilkerley/Dowdallshill, Naomh Martin and Naomh Fionnbarra.

Manager Jim Gibney pictured with O’Raghallaigh’s players Suzanne Markey, Emma White and Katie Moore. PICTURE: WARREN MATTHEWS

Regardless of results, the experience will stand to them and they can treat these matches as a strong learning curve to what looks like a bright future for all in involved with this fledgling club who are only playing their second season of competitive football.

Opening round fixtures | Sunday, August 6th — 11am

Intermediate Championship Round One

Group One

Clan na Gael v St Fechin’s
Naomh Fionnbarra v Mattock Rangers

Group Two

O’Raghallaighs v Kilkerley/Dowdallshill
Dreadnots OFF Glyde Rangers

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