PREVIEW: Who will be crowned Intermediate Champions?

CHAMPIONSHIP Excitement builds ahead of Ladies IFC throw-in on Sunday

A total of 13 teams are vying to win this year's Kiernan’s Service Station Intermediate Championship when the group stages get underway this Sunday, August 9, 11am.

Group A

Ballyhaise V Bailieborough

Cornafean V Mountnugent/Munterconnaught

In the opening round of this year’s Kiernan Service Station Intermediate championship Bailieborough will be looking to put last season’s county final disappointment behind them as they begin with a trip to Ballyhaise. Bailieborough are one of the teams to beat with the Reilly sisters and Tina O’Reilly being standout performers from the league. Lucy Jayne Grant along with Elaine Reilly provide the scoring threat for the opposition while Sinead Moore and Elaine Brady are key at the other end of the field.

Cornafean and Mountnugent/Munterconnaught met previously in the league this season, a game in which Cornafean came away with a one goal victory. Captain Orla Smith, Amy Wharton and Aine Brady are the standout for the Reds. Mountnugent/Munterconnaught will be out to impress following their Junior championship and division 4 league success in 2019. Senior county forward Aisling Gilsenan will pose a constant threat to any opposition as will former county underage players Emma McCabe and Ruth Gilsenan.

Group B

Belturbet V Lavey

Ballymachugh Bye

The Group B opener sees Belturbet take on last year’s beaten semi-finalists Lavey. Captain Alison O’Reilly is a commanding figure at full back for Lavey while Twiggy Smith and Colette Donohoe are a constant threat at the other end of the field. Lavey however will be without former county player Rachael Jordan, who will be a huge loss for the team. Belturbet will look to improve on a disappointing 2019 championship campaign in which they failed to win a single game. Belturbet have what it takes to cause an upset in the this year’s championship with key names such as Katie Fitzpatrick, Louise Lawlor, the Sheridan sisters and captain Eadaoin Minagh. They are also boosted by the addition of U14 All Ireland winner Gemma Beatty to the squad but will be without Amy Lawlor (travel), Sarah Murray and Olivia Woodcock due to injury.

Ballymachugh have to wait till the following Sunday to get their campaign underway, against Lavey. Ballymachugh will be a tough team to come up against with county players Aoibhinn Kiernan, Katie Mulligan and Muireann Smith along with many talented young players like Saoirse Kiernan and Hannah Smith.

Group C

Castlerahan/Denn V Kingscourt

Drumlane Bye

Castlerahan/Denn are without stalwart Ciara Keogh this season will be looking to build on an impressive league campaign in which they have recorded an impressive 6-33 in the two games in division 2. Captain Shanise Fitzsimons and Sophie Slowey have been standout performers this season as has Ciara Smith in a side that contains a number of last year’s division 1 U16 championship winning team. Their opponents Kingscourt boast a good blend of youth and experience with Holly Lynch in goals, Shannen McCormack in defence and Keri McCormack and Emma Duffy up front making them tough opposition.

Last year’s beaten semi-finalists Drumlane have a bye and will be looking to add an Intermediate title to the division 2 league won last season. Drumlane are a very young side, but also have the experience of players such as captain Ciara Brady, Bronagh Sheridan, Michaela Fitzpatrick, Zara Fay and Ciara Fitzpatrick. Former U14 county player Tara McAnnena is one to watch for Drumlane also.

Group D

St. Killian’s V Knockbride

St. Finbarr’s Bye

In Group D, St Killian’s welcome Knockbride to Mullagh in what should be a tight encounter. The Killinkere/Cuchulainns amalgamation under the leadership of Mattie Cahill and Cian Mackey are a tough team to break down with Naomi Smith at the heart of the defence. County minor Ruth Smyth is the driving force behind the team with Lauren Carpenter the standout in a hardworking forward line. Knockbride will be difficult opposition with forwards Sarah McCabe, Niamh Keenaghan and, up from the underage ranks, Abbi Connors being a constant scoring threat. Janelle McCabe, Micheaela Carolan and Amie Lynch are also standout names for last year’s Intermediate B champions who are without Aggie Cullivan.

The other Group D team is St. Finbarrs who dropped from senior level after a tough few years at the top. St. Finbarr’s will be hoping to bounce straight back up to senior and have three senior county players Kate McIntyre, Laura Fitzpatrick and Megan Shields, along with minor county captain Aine Reilly.