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Slaughtneil facing their toughest test yet

 

Crucial role: Aoife Ní Chaiside can inspire Slaughtneil tomorrow
Crucial role: Aoife Ní Chaiside can inspire Slaughtneil tomorrow
John Campbell

By John Campbell

All-Ireland senior camogie champions Slaughtneil face perhaps their most difficult challenge to date in a bid to retain their provincial crown when they meet Antrim title holders Loughgiel in tomorrow's Ulster senior camogie final at Dungannon (2.30pm).

The Derry side have been a major force in the sport over the course of recent seasons having been crowned All-Ireland champions in each of the last two years, yet their ongoing success has not been allowed to breed any element of complacency.

That's just as well since they will be facing a Loughgiel side which has been hitting the high spots in terms of scoring power lately, never more so than in the recent Antrim decider in which they beat a youthful Cushendall outfit by 5-20 to 1-4.

Notwithstanding the defensive frailties of their opponents, Loughgiel's pace, cohesion and slick finishing lent credence to the theory that they are capable of offering stiff resistance to the All-Ireland champions tomorrow.

While Loughgiel can look to players such as Caitrin Dobbin, Christine Laverty, Rachel Murphy and Lucia McNaughton to spark their challenge, Slaughtneil can call upon a raft of experienced campaigners who have become conditioned to success.

Joint captains Siobhan McKaigue and Grainne O'Kane lead a side that is still fired by ambition. The talented Ní Chaiside sisters Brona, Elis and Aoife help to underpin a team that also includes strong players in Louise Dougan and Mary Kelly.

In the Ulster Intermediate final at Moy today, Eglish will meet Down champions Clonduff (3.15pm).

These teams have been locked in a fierce rivalry of late and there is likely to be little between them. The Donnelly sisters Aisling, Leanne and Ciara, along with Ciara McGready and Aisling Jordan, can perhaps tilt the scales in favour of Eglish.

Prior to this, the provincial Junior Championship final will take place in which Loughgiel will confront Cavan champions Crosserlough (1.15pm).

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