THERE will be a double-header of football on Saturday as four teams do battle for the ladies senior and junior championship titles.
Bennettsbridge will be the venue as Thomastown take on Freshford in the senior decider, with Mullinavat meeting James Stephens in the junior curtain-raiser (throw-in 12 noon).
For Mullinavat, who were top of the pile with Railyard just a few years ago, the junior final will provide a chance to restore their senior status. The ’Vat have a mix of youth and experience, with players such as Julie Anne Malone and Marie Murphy a real threat, while James Stephens will have to be on their toes to keep the Mullinavat forwards at bay.
James Stephens have suffered defeat in three consecutive finals and will look to Vicky Cahill, Niamh Butler, Aoife Gorey, and Orla McCormack to reverse that trend. Both sides have had little game time in Kilkenny this year but entered the Leinster junior league, earning good wins against sides from Laois, Wexford and Wicklow.
Thomastown have been the form team this year and maintained their good run in the championship with a semi-final win over Railyard. The Railyard have been Thomastown’s bogey team in recent years, but a 3-7 to 1-10 win over the former champions saw the Grennan girls reach their fourth senior final.
Freshford are the reigning senior champions, having stopped Railyard’s five-in-a row attempt in dramatic fashion last year but they struggled in the opening rounds of this year’s championship, drawing with Railyard and Muckalee before losing out to Thomastown. A solid semi-final performance last week against Muckalee saw the holders progress to the final on a 2-5 to 1-5 scoreline.
Thomastown have a solid defence marshalled by Aine Sheehy and Sally Teehan while up front Aine Lannon and Jenny Reddy have been in lethal form in front of goal. Freshford have an equally defiant backline where Jamie O’Sullivan and Majella Colclough will make life hard for Thomastown’s sharpshooters while Yvonne McGrath will punish any misdemeanours with her accurate free taking.
New Yorker Roche
The county side may not have made it, but there was some Kilkenny interest in the All-Ireland junior quarter-final as New York beat Carlow to book their place in the final four.
Lining out at centre forward for the exiles in their 3-8 to 0-6 win over Carlow was former Railyard footballer Kelly Roche, who has been playing in New York for the past two years. Roche won three Kilkenny and two Laois championship titles with Railyard as well as a Leinster club title, All-Ireland Sevens medal. She also captained Railyard to the New York Sevens title in 2007, but missed out on Kilkenny’s All-Ireland win that year as she was playing Summer football in the Big Apple.
The New York team is made up of players from all over Ireland who are now residing in New York and playing club football in one of the city’s five senior clubs Cavan, Fermanagh, Kerry/Donegal, Na Fianna and Rockland. New York face Wexford in the All-Ireland semi-final in Birr on Saturday.