AFTER scoring a good win over Longford in the opening round of the Leinster football championship, the Kilkenny under-14 girls are preparing for the visit of Westmeath at the weekend.
Kilkenny faced Westmeath in 2009 and 2010 and were victorious on both occasions but fortunes change rapidly at under-age level, with a new squad lining out in this year’s championship. The Lake County girls had their match with Carlow postponed so they will be keen to get off to a winning start in their campaign, but Eoin Hennessy and his selectors have a panel of 40 players in training, with competition for places proving intense.
A repeat of the performance against Longford should go a long way to securing a second win for Kilkenny, but Westmeath will be equally determined to teach the Cats a lesson. The match is fixed for Saturday but will be confirmed in the coming days to avoid a clash with the All-Ireland junior ‘A’ colleges camogie final between Loreto and Presentation.
Following their 3-10 to 1-3 defeat to Wexford, Kilkenny’s under-16 team will be hoping to make amends against Westmeath in round two of their Leinster championship next week. The match was due to be a double header with the under 14 clash but with a number of the girls involved in the colleges camogie final it will be refixed to a midweek date under lights.
Kilkenny last played Westmeath at under-16 level in 2006 when the Cats went undefeated en route to the Leinster final. A number of players were unavailable for the Wicklow game so P.J. Whelan will be hoping to have a full complement available for the remaining games against Westmeath, Offaly, Louth and Carlow.
The new Barrow Gaels club hosted the Feile Peil na nOg county final on Monday. No stone was left unturned as a feast of football was provided for the large crowd of spectators in Graignamanagh. Thomastown and Kilkenny City had big wins over Piltown and Freshford to set up a hugely anticipated final.
Thomastown have been great ambassadors for Kilkenny at Feile for the past five years and cruised to the Division Four title in 2010 in Kildare. However the city side have been progressing well since forming last year, gaining experience through the under-13 county development programme while also enjoying a successful run in the Carlow under-13 league.
Thomastown fielded a younger side than they have had in recent years but were well in touch throughout the game. A superb goal by Aoife Cantwell gave the city side a cushion in the first half and despite constant pressure by Thomastown, Kilkenny City Girls emerged victorious on a 1-6 to 0-3 scoreline. A full report, plus pictures, will be published next week.
The city team will now represent the county at the national finals of Feile Peil na nOg, which will be held in Laois and Offaly from June 22 to 24.
Aside from the competitive action a number of challenge games were played throughout the afternoon with the losing semi-finalists playing a blitz with B teams from the city and Thomastown as well as the host club Barrow Gaels who were making their debut at girls football. Over 120 girls aged between 10 and 14 lined out in Graignamanagh on Monday, proving the point that Kilkenny girls have talent in abundance at the big ball game.