Leitrim Ladies can almost certainly guarantee their interest in the knock-out stages of the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship if they defeat Fermanagh next Saturday afternoon in Pairc Sheain Ui Eslin, Ballinamore (2.00 throw-in).
With Fermanagh and Leitrim winning their first games, victory for either would leave them in command of the Group, with Leitrim having only one game to play against a Limerick side who are already out of contention.
Niall Kilcrann’s side lie third in the table on scoring difference, three points behind Limerick and nine behind Wicklow, who defeated Limerick last weekend, 5-14 to 2-10, a scoreline that may give Leitrim some confidence as they approach next Saturday’s clash with Fermanagh.
Fermanagh only had three points to spare over the Munster team in the first game in the competition while Wicklow, defeated by two points by Leitrim, recorded a 13 point victory. However, one wouldn’t want to take Fermanagh lightly as their seven point haul in Division 2 of the Bord Gais League this year featured a 3-14 to 2-10 win over newly crowned Connacht Champions Galway while they also drew with Mayo.
They also defeated a Clare team who reached the Divisional semi-finals by six points, lost to Waterford by two and last year’s defeated All-Ireland Intermediate finalists Cavan by just two points, their only heavy lossess coming against Kerry and Tipperary.
Fermanagh’s scoring totals have been impressive and with so much at stake, the winner almost guaranteed a place in at least the second placed semi-final playoff series, it all adds to the pressure on both teams next Saturday.
The return of Roisin Fowley is a great boost after the loss of both Sarah McManus and Sharon Kerrigan for the Summer and the young Dromahair player will alleviate some of the extraordinary scoring burden that is placed on Aine Tighe, most teams feeling that if they can keep the Kiltubrid sharp-shooter quiet, then their job is more than half done.
Both teams will be desperate to avoid the playoff series where the two second placed teams in Group A & B face each other to win the right to take on the second placed team from the five team Group C.
With the game four hours ahead of Leitrim’s clash with Wicklow, Leitrim Ladies will hope that the supporters turn out in big numbers to cheer on the Ladies team.
Leitrim have struggled against Division 2 teams this year but the gritty performance against Wicklow in Greystones will have restored some confidence after the defeat to Sligo, a defeat made all the harder by the Yeatswomen two point victory over Roscommon in last Sunday’s Connacht Junior Final.
As the season progresses, games seem to be getting much harder as a target is definitely etched on their back but if they can rise themselves on Saturday, Leitrim have the ability to score a hugely important victory.