Limerick Ladies prepare for first All-Ireland final since 2018 | Preview

Limerick have come through battles with Kilkenny and Sligo, before defeating Fermanagh by a solitary point in the semi-final.

Graham Shine’s Limerick side meet once more with Down, as the pair face off in the Junior Ladies Football All-Ireland final this Sunday in Croke Park.

The sides recently clashed in a dead rubber group game, which the Ulster outfit won by five points, although both teams had nothing to play for, having already secured semi-final qualification.

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Limerick have come through battles with Kilkenny and Sligo, before dumping Fermanagh out by one point in the semi-final.

That win over the Ulster side would have been especially pleasing to Shine and co having lost to the same opposition in a pair of last four ties since 2020.

Opponents Down also faced off with Kilkenny and Sligo in group play, before taking on Carlow in their semi-final, setting up a final rematch with the Shannonsiders.

Shine’s team kicked off their campaign with a massive win over Kilkenny, scoring 7-21 as they demolished the Cats.

Cathy Mee scored a brace that day, and has proven herself as a huge goal threat throughout the championship.

Mee added another two goals when her side took on Sligo, helping them to a three point win, and securing their semi-final berth.

Round 3 pitted the finalists against each other, and both sides came into the game with spots in the semi-final already confirmed, and perhaps that took the edge off the game.

A very tight first half meant that there was just a point between the pair at the interval, with Down in the ascendency.

The Ulster outfit grew in control in the second half, and while the Shannonsiders did their best to claw their way back into the game, Down held on to pick up a win ahead of the semi-finals.

22 July 2023; Cathy Mee of Limerick celebrates after the TG4 LGFA All-Ireland Junior Championship semi-final match between Limerick and Fermanagh at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Perhaps the only lasting impact of that game could be a mental edge Down may have gained. Heading into the All-Ireland final having already beaten your opponents is sure to ease any worries they may have, and they come in as favourites, priced at 2/5.

Limerick are the underdogs at 9/4. They will also be up against a side that competed in the second tier last year having been relegated in 2022. However, Sligo were in a similar boat and Limerick were conniving in their group stage win over the Connacht outfit.

It will be the first time the Shannonsiders have appeared in a final since winning the Junior championship in 2018, although they were relegated straight back to the grade the following year.

Captain on that day was Mee and she is one of four remaining from that win over Louth, including current captain Roisin Ambrose who cannot wait to get going ahead of Sunday’s encounter.

“It’s been brilliant, at the end of the day we’re in an All-Ireland final. Winning the semi-final was a huge boost for us. The mood in the camp has been brilliant the last few weeks. We’re really looking forward to Sunday.”

Roisin Ambrose

Limerick will be looking to go overall top of the Junior All-Ireland role of honour, having also claimed the title in 2010, while Down’s sole Junior victory came in 2000, when they defeated Galway in the final.

Last 10 Junior Ladies Football All-Ireland winners:

  • 2022 – Antrim
  • 2021 – Wicklow
  • 2020 – Fermanagh
  • 2019 – Louth
  • 2018 – Limerick
  • 2017 – Fermanagh
  • 2016 – Longford
  • 2015 – Louth
  • 2014 – Wexford
  • 2013 – Offaly

It certainly promises to be a close encounter this Sunday but Shine’s youthful charges have shown their bounce back ability already this year and could be poised to shock the favourites in Croker.

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