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Mallon out to inspire Down and earn spot in All-Ireland decider

 

Final goal: Niamh Mallon has a place in All-Ireland showpiece in her sights
Final goal: Niamh Mallon has a place in All-Ireland showpiece in her sights
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Niamh Mallon certainly believes in making sacrifices in her bid to play a part in bringing more camogie success to Down.

The diminutive attacking ace is based in Galway but long-distance travel has become second nature to her as she combines her work with data science company Orreco with an intense commitment to her county team, who will take on Westmeath today in the semi-final of the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship at St Tiernach's Park, Clones (2pm).

It's a match to which Mallon is particularly looking forward to in the wake of her team's five-match unbeaten run in the Championship to date.

One of several experienced players in the Mourne side, Mallon is convinced that their spirit, commitment and ambition are such that they can take the big step into the final.

"We initially set out to try and retain our Ulster title because we knew that this would get us into the All-Ireland series," explained Mallon.

"When we achieved this we then set ourselves a higher goal but we are under no illusions about the Westmeath side we will be meeting. They have shown themselves to be very focused and they have claimed some big scalps this year."

Along with the Carr sisters Fionnuala and Sara Louise, Paula O'Hagan, Dearbhla Savage, Karen McMullan, Saoirse McCartan and Aimee McAleenan, the elusive Mallon helps to form the backbone of a Down side which has thrived under the capable baton of Martina Rooney.

But Westmeath will come to the table suitably fortified by talent. Dinah Loughlin, Pamela Greville and Denise McGrath have given outstanding service while skipper Mairead McCormack hails the "fantastic drive" which her squad has shown to date.

"There is a great unity there, a very strong desire to land the All-Ireland title," said McCormack. "The players show a fantastic drive which has served us well to date."

Her sentiments are endorsed by manager Johnny Greville, who nonetheless expresses the hope that his players will be able to cope with the demands of the occasion.

"There is going to be emotion and there are going to be mistakes made on the day, but it's about dealing with them and making sure they're not the overriding factor," insisted Greville. "You can always recover."

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