Malone Women take part in, what should be, very entertaining AIL Qualifier semi finals this weekend as the top junior side in each of the four provinces compete for senior status and inclusion in the Women’s AIL next season.
It’s the testament to the hard work of the clubs at this level that there are probably six or seven teams from the provincial leagues that could do a job in the AIL next season and it’s a pity that it has to be narrowed down to one. If it was our decision we’d put at least three teams through which would give us a women’s senior league that we could all be proud off.
The fixtures this weekend are as follows:
|Sat 13 Apr||13:00||Westport (Connacht)||–||Malone (Ulster)|
|Sun 14 Apr||14:00||Suttonians (Leinster)||–||Shannon (Munster)|
Westport v Malone
Westport RFC, Saturday 13th April. Kick off 13:00
Both these teams go into the playoffs undefeated in their provincial leagues though I’d guess both sides will be wishing they had a few more fixtures under their belts ahead of these play -offs.
Westport completed five of their league fixtures and won their league play off match against second placed NUIG back in February. They managed to clock up another two convincing wins in the cup since then beating Galwegians in the semi final and NUIG in the final at the end of March.
Malone have had a slightly buisier schedule, completing eight league fixtures as well as a win against Cavan in the semi final of the Junior Cup. Crucially the Ulster champions also enjoyed a couple of tough hit outs against Tralee in the AIL Cup competitions.
It’s probably those hit outs against Tralee that will make the difference between these two sides with the extra experience giving Malone a definite edge.
Suttonians v Shannon
JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds, Sunday 14th April . Kick off 14:00.
I can say no more about these two sides than after my nine hour round trip on Saturday to cover ou Ulster girls at Westport that I’m hoping to be fit enough to do the five hour round trip on Sunday to cover these two.
This should be a cracker of a game.
Suttonians have beaten all before them in their provincial qualifying league with a perfect record of 14 from 14. They have also enjoyed an impressive All Ireland cup outing, beating Cooke in the first round before losing narrowly to Blackrock in the semi finals. They are battle hardened and ready for this!
Shannon on the other hand finished, second in their provincial league and lost, rather more convincingly, to Blackrock in the opening round of the All Ireland Cup. However they have pushed their knock out credentials up a notch or two with an away win against Tralee in the play off for the Munster Women’s Division One title.
Suttonians have been hot favourites for promotion since the turn of the year and I can’t see them slipping up at this stage. It will be close however.