All eyes are on Parnell Park this weekend as Leitrim take on reigning Intermediate All-Ireland Champions Westmeath in this year’s Bord Gais Ladies National Football League Division 3 final.
Both sides faced each other in the fourth round of the league on the first weekend of March in Ballinamore, with the home side taking all three points on the day courtesy of a 1-12 to 1-9 victory.
Leitrim defeated Down on a score line of 1-11 to 0-7 in Clones in their semi-final on the last Sunday of April, while Westmeath come into this weekend’s game on the back of an eleven point win over Armagh in their last four tie, beating the Ulster side 5-6 to 1-7 on the same day in Drogheda.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer earlier this week, Leitrim manager Niall Kilcrann says will his side knows the task ahead, they are ready and raring to go. “This is a winner takes all tie, it’s 15 against 15 and we are going to Dublin to win it. We went up against them (Westmeath) earlier this year in what was a tight game and we’ll be expecting more of the same.
“They had two players sin-binned that afternoon and they still pushed us to the very end. They are All-Ireland Champions for a reason and were the most experienced side in our group, with a great management team. They also have the experience of being last year’s Division 4 Champions so will know how to handle themselves, but we will be giving it our all.”
Leitrim, who finished third in their group courtesy of points difference, collected an impressive 18 points from a possible 21. They were also in fine scoring form through the campaign, kicking a total of 142 scores, leaving them with a points difference of +50. Dominant wins over Sligo, Roscommon and a 19 point demolition of Wicklow were just some of the highlights on Leitrim’s path to this decider.
The squad will meet tomorrow (Thursday) night for their final training session ahead of Saturday’s game. With only minor injuries to worry about to date, Niall is confident he will have his full squad to choose from. “This will be our last get-together leading up to the game and we will see how everyone is then. There has been a few niggles but nothing major to worry about.”
Killcran and his management team have taken the policy of rotating the captaincy for every game this year. This Saturday will be no different, with Mohill defender Mairead Stenson getting the nod to lead her county into the league final, while Cloone’s Lorriane Brennan will act as vice-captain.
Niall explains: “We took the decision at the start of the year to change our captain for every game. It was a seriously tough choice of who to pick for Saturday’s game as we have leaders all over the pitch. Mairead and Lorraine have been two of our most consistent players since our first game and we felt they both deserved the accolade.”
Throw-in in Parnell Park on Saturday afternoon is 1.15pm.