Athenry and Sarsfields bid for All-Ireland camogie glory

Orlaith McGrath leads Sarsfields into a second All-Ireland Senior Camogie Club Championship final against champions Slaughtneil. Photo” ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Orlaith McGrath leads Sarsfields into a second All-Ireland Senior Camogie Club Championship final against champions Slaughtneil. Photo” ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Two Galway camogie teams are in All-Ireland final action in Croke Park this Sunday.

First up in the AIB All-Ireland intermediate club final are Athenry and Johnstownbridge (Kildare ) at 1.30pm, before Sarsfields take on current champions Slaughtneil (Derry ) in the senior final at 3.30pm.

Athenry are a good side and the team that beat Mountbellew/Moylough in the Galway county final are still backboned by some high quality players who won four Galway club senior titles from 2006 and 2009.

This weekend they will still be looking for inspiration from Therese Maher, Regina Glynn and Jessica Gill. Other top quality players in action on Sunday for the club will be Noreen Coen, Dervla Higgins and team captain Lorna Hannon.

Their team manager is former star player Katherine Duane, and with a few very experienced players supported by some new and exciting talent, they are fancied in many quarters to have too much power for the Kildare champions.

That said, Johnstownbridge have won the All-Ireland Junior title for the past two years and are a competitive outfit.

Nevertheless, Athenry were impressive in their All-Ireland semi-final victory over Waterford's Lismore, and if they can reproduce that form, they should start the day with a Galway success.

The senior final is a repeat of the 2017 All-Ireland final which Derry and Ulster champions Slaughtneil won by two points on a scoreline of 1-10 to 0-11 against an underperforming Sarsfields outfit on the day.

Despite that defeat last March, Sarsfields bounced back again this year. Michael McGrath's squad produced a real power display to defeat Mullagh in the Galway county final, and did just enough to see off Burgess-Duharra (Tipperary ) by one point in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Slaughtneil, who beat Kilkenny’s Thomastown in their semi-final, are powered by Clare McGrath, the Cassidy sisters, Éilis, Aoife and Brona, Lauren Dougen and Shannon Graham, who is a top performer.

Sarsfields Camogie Club, which was formed in 1981 and is a combination of New Inn, Bullaun and Woodlawn, will be looking to team captain Orlaith McGrath and her sisters Niamh, Siobhán and centre-back Clodagh, along with Laura Ward, Tara Kenny, Sarah Spellman, Mairead Cooney and underage star Rachel Murray, who hit the winner in their semi-final victory.

Sarsfields never fully got going in last year's final and that is something that team manager Michael McGrath plans on changing this weekend.

"We have had a lot of tight matches this year and we are delighted to be back in a final again and we will have another go at it. In the county semi-final against St Thomas, we were four or five down at one stage, but we just dug it out and that attitude and keep going to end spirit will be needed on Sunday too.

"Slaughneil are a fine team, every knows that. However, hopefully we will have learned from last year's defeat and improved. We are ready to give it a right go on Sunday. Our girls are a year older and hopefully they are a bit more mature and a bit more aware of what needs to be done at big moments in games.

"Croke Park is where every club player wants to play and we are no different. It has been hellish getting pitches over the past few weeks, but we are in the final now and we are looking forward to it."

McGrath believes it is a 50:50 game.

"If we play as we know we can, then we have a right chance. With Athenry up there for their final too, we will have good Galway support on the day, and with a bit of luck we might get two Galway wins. We'll have to wait and see."

Tickets for the AIB All-Ireland Camogie Club finals on Sunday March 4 can be purchased online via www.tickets.ie or from selected Centra and SuperValu outlets nationwide. Tickets will be available to purchase on matchday from the stadium at the Ticket Office at Gill's Corner and the Ticket Van on Jones' Road.

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