Monday 19 February 2018

Wexford have extra incentive


All-Ireland Intermediate Final

Antrim v Wexford

Croke Park, 2.0

Antrim appear in their fourth final in less than 12 months. They captured the Premier Junior title last year after a dramatic replay, while they lost the League Two final, by the slimmest of margins in April.

The Joe Baldwin-trained team has become accustomed to pressure finals, and the Ulster side will relish today's encounter. They edged through after a dramatic semi-final win over Limerick. Teenage star Orlagh O'Hara scored the match-winning goal in injury time as Antrim won 2-11 to 2-9.

However, they face an entirely different proposition in Wexford who are seasoned campaigners and driven by the pain of last year's defeat.

The performance of the mercurial Jane Adams is crucial to Antrim, in addition to midfielders Rhona Torney and Colleen Doherty. Wexford will rely upon score-getter Ciara O'Connor and the lightning pace of Linda Bolger, while Áine Codd is a vital cog at the heart of the defence. Spurred on by last year, Wexford should prove too strong.

Antrim: M Graham; C Carey, A Martin, A McCall; B Orchin, E Connolly, A Jackson; C Doherty, R Torney; M Convery, N McGuinness, C Hamill; K McAleese, J Adams, L McAleese.

Wexford: H Jacob; C Atkinson, B Holohan, F Doran; L O'Leary, A Codd, L Bolger; S Kehoe, S Nolan; L Codd, B Curran, S Redmond; C O'Connor, F Rochford, L Bolger.

All-Ireland Junior Final

Down v Waterford

Croke Park, 12.0

Waterford head to GAA HQ for their third year in a row, determined to capture a title which has so far eluded them after heartbreaking defeats in the last two years. Down, on the other hand, make their first appearance since 2004.

Little separates the teams, and whichever side displays the greater mental resilience will collect the All-Ireland crown. Can Waterford shake off the shackles of those previous defeats or will Down's youthful exuberance carry them through?

Waterford's Patricia Jackman, a stalwart of the side and a three-time Poc Fada champion, is a crucial cog, while up front Karen Kelly and captain Nicola Morrissey have huge roles to play. Down will be relying on captain Lisa McCrickard at centre-forward while Fionnuala Carr is the linchpin of a teak-tough defence.

Waterford defeated the Ulster side in the round robin championship stages but it will matter little today with the stakes higher. Down to win but by a tiny margin.

Down: K Fegan; O Maginn, C McGovern, E McCormick; P Gribbin, F Carr, K Tinnelly; L McPolin, K McMullan; C McGourty, L McCrickard, K O'Higgins; K Gribbin, S-L Carr, N Mallon.

Waterford: A O'Brien; E Hannon, J Simpson, K-M Hearn; S Kiernan, C Raher, G Kenneally; P Jackman, D Fahey; N Rockett, N Morrissey, A Hannon; R Geoghegan, K Kelly, Z O'Donoghue.

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