Down fighting for their senior status

All-Ireland Senior Camogie

Championship relegation play-off

Down v Offaly

Saturday, Kingspan Breffni, 2pm

DOWN can feel somewhat aggrieved to be in this relegation play-off, but they’re here now and they must be mentally tuned in to ensure that the situation doesn’t deteriorate.

When the Mourne county pushed hard to be regraded to senior after last year’s All-Ireland Intermediate success, they did so with the confidence that they could make things difficult for the top teams in the country.

A look at their group results would suggest that the confidence was not misplaced.

In their first outing, they made the long trip to Waterford and led for the majority of the way. Niamh Mallon’s penultimate point – she would score 0-9 in all – had them four points ahead with seven minutes remaining, but the hosts would finish strongly and scored a winner six minutes into additional time.

The side also gave Cork a tough outing in Newry with the side losing by six points, and it surely would have been even closer if star pair Sara Louise Graffin and Paula O’Hagan were available.

That left a do-or-die clash with Dublin with a draw good enough for Down. Again Dunne’s side were undone by a late score with Aisling Maher firing past Catherine McGourty with a minute to go for the game’s crucial score.

Mallon and Sorcha McCartan, who is enjoying a fantastic season, both hit three points from play but it wasn’t enough.

While Down can curse their luck, Offaly can have little complaint about their current predicament.

They lost to Tipperary by 17 points, Wexford by seven points and Limerick by two points in the group stages. They were at least competitive in the last of those with the Treaty tagging on a couple of late points to prevail.

Mairead Teehan, Siobhan Flannery and Orlagh Kirwan are the scoring threats Down will have to watch out for.

The losers here will advance to a final play-off against Westmeath. Last year at Kingspan Breffni Down announced that they wanted to be a senior team. They can reinforce that at the same venue.

Verdict: Down

All-Ireland Premier Junior

Championship Group One round three

Wexford v Armagh

Saturday, Buffer’s Alley, 2pm

THE winner here will finish top of this section and could be among two of the three group winners to advance straight to the semi-finals.

This will be the third meeting of the sides this year with the Leinster side leading 2-0 having secured narrow wins in the league and, then, the Division Three final.

So, it’s a case of hoping for third time lucky for Mattie Lennon’s side and they go into the game on the back of a win over Waterford.

Nikki Woods and Grainne McWilliams were composed in defence, while Shelly McArdle and Leanne Donnelly provided a great platform from midfield.

Emma Mone’s save at the end of the first half was also crucial to the outcome, as were the scoring exploits of Ciara Donnelly (1-4) and Eimear Smyth (1-1).

Wexford have a win over Waterford under their belts as they travelled to Walsh Park in their last game and won by 1-12 to 2-4 – but it wasn’t plain sailing.

They conceded a goal after just 47 seconds as a free from distance was missed by the goalkeeper, but they responded well to score the next eight points with Waterford not raising another flag until the second half.

However, that started a rocky spell, with Waterford hitting another goal to lead at the end of the third quarter but a late 1-2 saved the day for the Model county.

Verdict: Wexford

Nancy Murray Cup Group One round three

Mayo v Tyrone

Saturday, Toreen, 1pm

THIS Nancy Murray group has become a bit messy with a number of games cancelled, but it should sort itself out this week. The Red Hands, under the guidance of Declan Sherlock,met Donegal in a rearranged fixture in Edendork on Wednesday night (winning comfortably), while this is also a rescheduled game.

Mayo absolutely blitzed Donegal in their first game – hitting seven goals in the process – and while they should receive a much stiffer test here, it’s unlikely Tyrone will be able to stop them from topping the group, especially away from home.

Verdict: Mayo

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