By Michael McMullan
ANTRIM star Maeve Kelly will have her knee assessed later this week after sustaining an injury in Ballycastle’s defeat at the hands of champions Loughgiel on Saturday.
Kelly, who won an All-Ireland Intermediate title with the Saffrons last year, missed this year’s campaign with a broken bone in her foot.
She notched two frees on Saturday on her comeback, but the versatile Kelly could face a lengthy period on the sidelines.
Caitrin Dobbin hit 1-10 in the Shamrocks’ 2-16 to 0-11 win, but they were without Antrim ace Roisin McCormick who was out with an ankle injury.
Loughgiel are already without Maeve Shannon, Emma McFadden and Emma McMullan, also unavailable this season.
They face Dunloy in the next round and the Cuchullains’ 3-20 to 0-6 hammering of Cushendall has got tongues wagging across Antrim the beyond as challenges to Loughgiel bidding for a ninth successive title.
In Derry, Ulster champions Sleacht Néill have their own injury worries with pacy attacker Therese Mellon ruled out for the season after a recent cruciate ligament injury.
The Emmet’s have already qualified for the semi-finals with wins over Coleraine and Bellaghy in the group stages.
Sinead Mellon hit three goals in their 4-13 to 2-5 win over Eoghan Rua and Tina Bradley was to the fore with 0-11 in their 2-19 to 0-6 win over the Tones.
Sleacht Néill welcomed Aoife Ní Chaiside back after injury, with Gráinne Ní Chatháin also expected to make a return from a serious knee injury.
New manager Padraig Groogan has been without Sionainn Graham who hasn’t featured since the early stages of the league. Swatragh are league champions in Derry and will be aiming to stop Sleacht Néill’s squest for a nine title and an eighth succession.
The ‘Swa were impressive in a 0-10 to 0-6 win over Ballinascreen and face Lavey this weekend in their final group game as they bid to top the group and secure a semi-final spot.
Derry ‘keeper Niamh Gribbin hit three goals as Lavey clawed their way back from the jaws of defeat to notch victory against ‘Screen in Round One.