Fire Stop and Seal Antrim Senior camogie championship
Tuesday 15th August
Loughgiel 7pm : Dunloy v Ballycastle Ref Ryan O Reilly
Creggan 7.15pm : Portglenone v Rossa (Ref Owen Elliot)
By Seamus McAleenan
With Cushendall and holders Loughgiel already lined up to face each other in the Antrim Senior championship semi-final on Saturday September 2nd, the focus is firmly on the other side of the draw this Tuesday evening with the remaining quarter-finals down for decision in Loughgiel and Creggan.
The Shamrocks host an intriguing battle between last season’s beaten finalists Dunloy and 2015 beaten finalists Ballycastle. Their league meeting finished in a draw and the pair are still in a battle for runners-up spot behind unbeaten Loughgiel. So the winner of this game would be expected to push on for a final spot. Both clubs had been pushing strongly at underage level as well over the past couple of years and they have a lot of good quality teenagers coming through. With the “Town” winning the Minor championship title in May, their senior side has been boosted with the addition of younger blood such as the Donnelly twins, Caoimhe Wright and Catherine McShane, all of whom won Ulster and All-Ireland minor medals with Antrim this year and were drafted into Aidan McKeown’s senior squad for the All-Ireland Intermediate championship. However the backbone of the team is still Emma Connor, Kathryn and Niamh Donnelly and Niamh O’Neill, a solid experienced group who should feature through the central spine of the team.
Dunloy is the other club that has contributed well to the Antrim senior set up this year and they will hope to build on last year’s solid display in the county final, with the club’s second string also contesting the Junior championship decider. The Martin sisters, Aileen and Sinéad, Shannon Woulahan, Leeanne Reid and Michaela Elliott have all done well in the Antrim senior team this season and that adds up to making Dunloy difficult enough to break down on a championship evening. This one is very hard to call and could well end as one of the league fixtures did – in a draw, which would necessitate a replay on Tuesday 22nd.
The other game is in Creggan and throws up an interesting clash between Portglenone and Rossa, clubs that contested successive championship finals in 2012 and 2013. Indeed the Geraldines played in four county finals in a row 2011-4, but just could not make the breakthrough to bridge the gap to the last of their 11 titles back in 1992.With little success over the last decade at underage level, there is a feeling that they may well have missed their chance with this particular group of players. And I suppose you could say something similar is the case for a once dominant Rossa side with all ten of their county senior crowns coming since the turn of the Millennium. There was still a significant kick in the Shaw’s Road outfit when the championship came around last year and they gave Loughgiel a good run for their money in the semi-final at Randalstown. Maureen Stewart and Mariosa McGourty are reported to have returned to the squad in recent weeks and this will considerably boost their cause. In the first half of the league, Natalie McGuinness was their outstanding player pushing through from centre-half back for telling scores, while Caoimhe McNeice has stepped up to the plate at midfield with Bronagh Orchid and Muireann Quinn also significant presences. Portglenone still rely on Katie McAleese for most of their scores, although Niamh McKee has shown glimpses of her true ability in games this year. Anna Kelly, Caitriona Hasson and Jane and Therese McAleese will weigh in with strong performances. Rossa won the league encounter back in May and they should make it a double in the championship.
There is one game in the Doherty Wood Shavings Junior championship – the last of the quarter-finals when Gortamona have home advantage against Rasharkin. The north Antrim side have had the advantage of winning a preliminary game last week (v Brídíní Óga) when they produced a very strong final quarter, with Kerrie Darragh and Shariffa O’Kane taking over in midfield and Amy McMullan and Emer Quigg looking very sharp up front. Gortnamona have had an indifferent season to date, but with home advantage are expected to mount a good championship challenge with long standing goalie Colleen McAvoy and captain Fiona Nic Oitir leading a young squad in which Aoibhin Enright and Aisling Stone have stood out this year. Both clubs finished around the middle of the Division 3 table although Rasharkin won the head to heads. Loughgiel await the winners in the semi-final next Tuesday (22nd) and it is difficult to call this one. Perhaps home advantage will see the city team advance.
Doherty Wood Shavings Junior quarter-final
Tuesday 15th August, 7.15pm
Gortnamona v Rasharkin (Ref Paul McDonnell)