Limerick v Wicklow; Tang, Westmeath, 1pm
Wicklow ladies will be aiming to go one better after losing out to Fermanagh in last year’s Final, meet 2018 champions Limerick.
Wicklow have been the form team to date in the 2021 competition, collecting four wins from four outings in the group stages, including a seven-point victory over Limerick.
The Shannonsiders, in contrast, weren’t sure of progress to the knockout stages until the final round of group fixtures last weekend.
They lost to Carlow, their third defeat in the round-robin system, but an earlier one-point win over Derry was ultimately good enough to see Limerick through in fourth place.
With the semi-final pitting first against fourth from the group stages, Limerick now face a clash with a team rated by many as Junior Championship favourites.
On recent form, it’s a daunting task for Limerick but they won’t go into this game without hope.
They’re a capable outfit but it’s fair to say that they’ll need a vast improvement on last weekend’s 1-9 to 4-11 loss to Carlow.
Nicole Bennett is a player to watch on the Limerick side, with 3-7 registered in Championship 2021, while Roisin Ambrose and Andrea O’Sullivan have split 2-10 between them.
At the other end of pitch, Wicklow have a player who’s hot on the heels of Armagh star Aimee Mackin the race for the inaugural Golden Boot award, which will be presented to the leading scorer in the 2021 TG4 All-Ireland Championships.
Marie Kealy, with 0-34 from four games, has been scoring for fun. When you consider that Sinead McGettigan and Catherine Dempsey (2-2 each) are Kealy’s nearest challengers in the Wicklow top scorer race, that gives you some indication of the Baltinglass player’s form.
Wicklow, in general terms, have been motoring nicely. Their winning margins throughout the Championship to date against the other four teams in the competition have been seven points (Limerick), eight points (Carlow), five points (Antrim) and six points (Derry).
They’re the team to beat and Limerick will need to produce something special to book their place in a first Junior decider since that memorable 2018 success.
Defeated by seven points against Fermanagh in the 2020 semi-final, Limerick find themselves just one step away from the big day again. But Wicklow will feel that they have some unfinished business to attend to.
Wicklow (v Limerick): L Dempsey; M Healy, S.J. Winders (capt.), L Dunne; L Fusciardi, A Conroy, A Gillen; N McGettigan, S Delahunt; L Ahern, M Deeney, R McGettigan; C Fox, C Dempsey, M Kealy.
Limerick (v Wicklow): S Hennessy; K Reidy, M McCarthy, C Walsh; M Buckley, N McCarthy (capt.), M MacNamara; L Coughlan, R Ambrose; K Heelan, A O’Sullivan, Á Cunningham; N Bennett, A Ryan, R Daly.