Oulart & Sarsfields collide again

SATURDAY 5 MARCH

AIB Junior Club Championship Final
Clanmaurice v Eoghan Rua, O’Raghallaighs GAA, Drogheda

AIB Junior B Club Championship Final

SUNDAY 6 MARCH

AIB Intermediate Club Championship final
Salthill Knocknacarra v St Rynagh’s, Croke Park, 2pm

AIB Senior Club Championship final
Oulart The Ballagh v Sarsfields, Croke Park, 4pm

TV / RADIO COVERAGE

Watch live coverage of the senior and intermediate finals on RTÉ2 from 1.45pm.

You can follow live updates across Saturday and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1, with highlights on Allianz League Sunday, RTÉ2 from 9.30pm.

Both junior finals are available to watch on the Camogie Association YouTube channel

And so 78 days later

Laura Ward of Sarsfields and Stacey Kehoe of Oulart the Ballagh pictured outside Croke Park ahead of the decider

The 2020 final was eventually played on 18 December last. A determination not to have a blank year in the roll of honor was key in getting the competition finished.

It was the Wexford side, who ran out winners by five points, with Úna Leacy helping herself to a hat-trick of goals. Shelley Kehoe also goaled and there was no denying that Oulart deserved their success and with it a third All-Ireland title.

The feat was achieved despite many of the players attending the wedding of midfielder Stacey Kehoe, a twin of Shelley, the day before. But there was no hint of physical or mental lethargy as they took it to their opponents from the off, with Stacey named player of the match after a sterling display.

That was then. Another All-Ireland title is on the line. Oulart aiming for a back-to-back, while Sarsfield looking to regain the crown they last won only two years ago.

With Storm Franklin raging, both sides had contrasting winning margins in their respective semi-finals. Oulart accounting for Scariff Ogonolloe by 18, with just a point separating Sarsfields and Slaughtneil after extra-time in the other semi-final. The rescheduling of the latter game, which saw it switched to Gorey after Kingspan Breffni was deemed unplayable, raised more than a few eyebrows.

Reflecting on the decision to play the game at the Wexford venue, Sars manager Michael McGrath told RTÉ Sport: “I don’t know where Gorey came out of. Both teams were anxious to play the match. You’d imagine we could have got somewhat nearer to both teams.

Underfoot conditions were testing at the Gorey venue

“Conditions were fierce. If right was right, the match shouldn’t have been played at all, but with the two teams coming so far I suppose it had to be played. The pitch cut up out there, it was dog eat dog. You had two good camogie teams out there but neither could show their real camogie skills. It was just a battle. “

Will that battle now serve the Galway side in good stead against opponents who only conceded two points a fortnight ago and bagged an impressive 3-11.

Oulart have it in them to put teams to the sword by notching up a flurry of scores in no time, with Michael McGrath also adding that “they just don’t beat teams, they annihilate them”.

As was the case in December, Sarsfields will have to keep close tabs on Úna Leacy, Ursula Jacob and the Kehoe sisters.

Sinead Mellon of Slaughtneil (l) in action against Laura Ward

On that task, Sars’ defender Laura Ward told a media day ahead of the final: “If you want to win, you want to mark the best, you want to play the best and you want to beat the best so I suppose that’s enough of a drive in itself.

“Going out there the next day, all you want to do is win the first ball and hope every other ball will bounce into your hand or bounce the right way for you, and not bounce into Úna Leacy’s hand or Ursula Jacob’s hand. Just hope for a little bit of luck as well. “

Stacey Kehoe was named player of the match in December’s All-Ireland final

There has also been talk of the age profile of the Oulart side, but Stacey Kehoe was keen to point to blend of youth and experience when she addressed the media during the week.

“With age comes experience and things that can’t be taught. We get that aging thing a lot but we have new blood coming in that has intertwined with the older group. That is working fairly well. We’re just happy to be where we are in terms of our performance.

“After losing finals in Wexford a few of us sat down, realizing that our chance of more success may be gone. That chat brought us forward to win a county final. The journey continued and the dream grew. We got over the line in December . We don’t intend to be a pushover on Sunday. We’re there to do a job. “

Offaly club have their eye on a back-to-back

Orla Callanan of Salthill Knocknacarra (l) and Grainne Dolan of St Rynagh’s will be part of the 2pm fixture on Sunday

In the intermediate decider, reigning All-Ireland champions St Rynagh’s came good when it mattered against Gailltír of Waterford in the semi, with a second-half goal helping them to a 2-11 to 1-11 victory.

Standing in their way are Salthill Knocknacarra from Galway, who are appearing in a first final in the grade. They and got the better of Down’s Poertaferry in Abbotstown in tough conditions the last day with the impressive Laura Kelly notching 0-09 of her team’s total on the day.

Last season’s beaten finalists Clanmaurice of Kerry are back in the junior A decider having beaten the reigning All-Ireland champions, Raharney (Westmeath) in an extra-time thriller in the semi-final. The Munster champions now face the challenge of Derry’s Eoghan Rua of Derry, who came through their last-four encounter with a 1-12 to 0-06 win over Athleague of Roscommon.

Katie Mullan of Eoghan Rua (l) and Sara Murphy of Clanmaurice pictured at Croke Park ahead of the final

The final of the junior B sees Derrylaughan of Tyrone up against Wicklow’s Knockananna. The Ulster outfit defeated Oran from Roscommon in their semi. Their opponents had too much for Manchester side Fullen Gaels, winning comprehensively by 2-15 to 1-02.

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