THE COUNTY game has been dominating Kilkenny camogie scene in recent weeks, but the club action takes centre-stage with a full round of league games at senior, intermediate and junior levels on Monday.
There are plenty of issues at stake, particularly in the senior and intermediate leagues. For teams who progress to the league semi-finals, there is also the added bonus of securing safety against relegation.
All games throw in at 7pm.
Lisdowney: Lisdowney v St Lachtain’s.
Promoted from intermediate level, Lisdowney recorded a shock win over defending senior champions Mullinavat in round two.
They are progressing young team with talented players like Tracey Brennan, the Holland sisters Kate and Siobhan, Claire Phelan who is performing well for Kilkenny in the senior championship and Eimear Mulhall, while in attack Aoife Murphy possesses a touch of class in front of goal.
St Lachtain’s are a team in transition, but despite all their rebuilding they still possess a wealth of experience with Anne Dalton, Deirdre Delaney Aoife Fitzpatrick and Marie O’Connor.
Two defeats so far has could see them battling the possibility of relegation. Victory, therefore, is essential here.
Muckalee: St Martin’s v Mullinavat.
Qualification for a league semi-final is now in the balance for senior champions Mullinavat, who face an in-form St Martin’s. Edwina Keane and Marie Dargan are the leading mainstays for Martin’s, who are on a high following their memorable win in the under-14 Roinn A camogie final.
Mullinavat are without Leanne Fennelly, but will be boosted by the return of Michelle Quilty who has been in a rich vein of form for the county seniors since returning from an injury lay-off.
Ballyhale: Ballyhale Shamrocks v St Brigid’s.
These two teams clashed last year, with Shamrocks easily winning by 4-11 to 1-4 - but this should be a much closer contest this time around.
Shamrocks have lost both games so far, but there is an abundance of talent on show. The team is led by sisters Jacqui and Edel Frisby, Keeva and Roisin Fennelly and the experienced Emily Darmody in attack.
St Brigid’s recorded victory over Thomastown just five days after losing out to Windgap. They are a team with plenty of young players, but they have experience like the highly skilled Bronagh Neary and Therese Muldowney to lead the way. Aisling Dunphy has been performing well for the county seniors, while Nicola Butler is another talented young player.
Thomastown: Thomastown v Windgap.
Having won everything at under-age level, the challenge for Thomastown is to prove they can be a force in the senior ranks.
They certainly have the players; the team features Jenny Reddy and the three Farrell sisters, Anna, Shelley and Megan, while Niamh Donnelly is a terrific young player.
Despite conceding seven goals in their two games Windgap have recorded two-point wins against both Ballyhale Shamrocks and St Brigid’s. There is plenty of room for improvement, but like Thomastown, they have the talent at under-age.
The team is led by Denise Gaule, while Anne-Marie Phelan at full-forward offers a menacing presence. They too will challenge for senior honours in the coming years.
Inistioge: Rower-Inistioge v Tullaroan.
The Rower-Inistioge suffered a big loss to Dicksboro on Good Friday, but quickly got their season back on track. Within days they won the under-21 Roinn B title, then saw the adult team beat St Anne’s to get back on track.
Nevertheless, that 21-point thumping on Good Friday may prove costly to their hopes; they will need to record a comprehensive victory over Tullaroan and hope that St Anne’s beat Dicksboro.
Tullaroan have made a huge impression since forming just two years ago. Following back-to-back successes at Junior B and A grades they have taken to the intermediate level like a fish takes to water. They have talented young players like Grace Walsh, Miriam Walsh, Noelle Maher and Rachel Dowling, while Aine Fahy has been performing well for the county in the senior championship.
However, the Rower’s need for victory is greater, which may prove the ultimate difference.
Palmerstown: Dicksboro v St Anne’s.
Dicksboro can qualify for a league semi-final spot with victory on Monday.
The ’Boro are another team with quality young players. Niamh Kelly is back after a year’s absence from the game, while county minor Orla Hanrick is a prolific forward.
St Anne’s, who were unlucky to lose last year’s relegation final by just one point to St Brigid’s, have had trouble with playing numbers this year. The Johnstown/Galmoy contingent were intermediate winners in 2009 and boast a mixture of youth and experience.
Catherine Doherty has been Kilkenny’s senior player of the year so far. Edel Maher has featured prominently also, while Sarah Dermody , Catriona Brennan and Claire Delaney were on the inter-county senior panel last year.
Their league hopes may have evaporated, but a win here would be a confidence booster.
Clara: Clara v Paulstown.
A clash of neighbours, this local derby could be the intermediate tie of the round.
Clara have plenty of young talent in abundance. The Byrne sisters Roisin and Niamh are All-Ireland under-age winners, while county minor Aisling Curtis captained Loreto to All-Ireland success last March. Aoife Murphy is a talented forward with an eye for goal, and victory here will assure them of a league semi-final spot.
Paulstown lost out to Piltown in the opening match at home and despite enjoying a considerable amount of possession they went a long period of the second-half without scoring. Collette Dormer and Eillish Cantwell will be key to their hopes of progress this year, along with goalkeeper Emma Staunton.
A close battle should be in order here.
Larchfield: James Stephens v Piltown.
Having suffered 30 and 29-point defeats respectively in their two games to date, relegation appears inevitable for a James Stephens side who escaped the drop to junior level last year.
On the flip side Piltown have been flying so far. They recorded victory over Paulstown minus the injured Katie Power, before Power played though the pain barrier scoring 3-4 as they easily accounted for Clara.
Glenmore: Glenmore v Carrickshock.
Glenmore are one of just two teams to have recorded a 100% record of victories in their three games. The Glen ladies have been very impressive so far, are among the leading contenders for junior honours.
Carrickshock’s comprehensive victory away to Conahy Shamrocks was sandwiched inbetween heavy defeats to Young Irelands (Gowran) and Tullogher.
Glenmore should have little trouble recording victory here, while the ’Shock appear most likely to contest the B championship.
Conahy: Conahy Shamrocks v Young Irelands.
The second unbeaten team at junior level, Young Irelands (Gowran) have recorded victories over Carrickshock, Tullogher and Emeralds. A young team who have enjoyed success at under-age level over the last four years Sarah-Anne Quinlan is the leader of the attack, while Emma Comerford is a class act.
Conahy Shamrocks have suffered three straight comprehensive victories in their first year as an adult club playing team. The O’Keeffe sisters Miriam and Noreen are a formidable midfield pairing, while Noelle Corrigan and Mariga Nolan have experience of playing with St Lachtain’s.
Urlingford: Emeralds v Tullogher.
Both teams have identical records, with one win and two defeats apiece.
Emeralds were relegated from the intermediate level last year and they haven’t made an impression in Junior yet since their comprehensive opening round victory against Conahy Shamrocks.
The Urlingford contingent boast Laura Kavanagh in their ranks while defending league champions Tullogher, who have quality in abundance in Catriona Ryan, Siobhan Murphy, the Cotterell cousins Joanne and Linda along with Elaine Mullally, have shipped heavy defeats to neighbours Glenmore and Young Irelands.
Danesfort: Danesfort v Blacks and Whites.
Danesfort appear the most likely to qualify as group winners for the league final. The Skeough girls were league finalists last year. With goalkeeper Anne-Marie Lennon and class forward Emma Carroll in their ranks, they have a chance here, but home advantage could be the decisive factor.
Bennettsbridge: Bennettsbridge v O’Loughlin Gaels.
Two teams that operated in Junior B last year, and are most likely to do so again in 2011.
Bennettsbridge have been struggling badly this year, while O’Loughlin Gaels are a club on the crest of a wave. Following the success of their hurlers over the last 12 months, the camogie club recently celebrated with victory in the under-14 Roinn C final.
Those players are too to compete at adult level yet, but there are others like Loreto All-Ireland winning medallist Aoife Nolan and talented defender Samantha Mguin. They will fancy their chances here.