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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019

The Déise and the Orchard set for showdown

Waterford and Armagh will be seeking to graduate to senior level in Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football final.

Mags McAlinden of Armagh with Waterford's Michelle McGrath who contest the Intermediate final.
Mags McAlinden of Armagh with Waterford's Michelle McGrath who contest the Intermediate final.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

SUNDAY’S TG4 LADIES Football Intermediate Championship final will be seen by both Waterford and Armagh as the chance to take the first step back towards the upper echelons of senior level.

Waterford reached eight senior finals out of 10 between 1991 and 2000, winning five, but they now find themselves in the second tier as they try to rebuild. For manager Pat O’Brien, it has been a case of allowing the side to gain the requisite experience to ascend back to senior.

“It’s a long time since we were senior,” he says, “but the one thing is that we’re a young team and a growing team. It has probably been good for the county, we are starting to mature now and hopefully we can kick on.

“We had to blood a lot of young players, even the last couple of years, the fellas who were there before me had to bring a lot of players on. At this stage, they’re coming right and there’s a lot of experience there too.”

In his first year in charge, O’Brien felt that his side were good enough to make a tilt at the All-Ireland.

“We started back last September and I’m happy with the way things are going. We knew that we had a strong panel and our main objective starting out was to do well in the league. We did that and then we won the Munster championship for the fourth time in a row.

“We set out our stall then in the All-Ireland championship, we knew that there were a lot of other strong teams. We have played Armagh twice already, they beat us by six points the last day.”

The Ulster side have been senior more recently, re-grading last year. They reached the 2006 senior final, losing by a point to Cork, and their boss James Daly acknowledges the the work of his side in giving themselves a chance of an immediate return.

“Some of the girls felt that we didn’t need to go down and they wanted to put that right. They have put a lot of work and a lot of effort in and we’re back where we want to be. We have eight girls from the 2006 panel, maybe three or four would have started that day.

“We have two or three who were on the fringes then too, so hopefully that can help. It’s great for someone like me to be in charge of a team where you have so many leaders.

“We have some young girls and the older players would put an arm around their shoulder and tell them what they need to be doing, and that helps them hugely.”

This is the third meeting of the counties this year, and while Armagh have the upper hand so far, Daly is not taking anything for granted.

“We played them in a group play-off and won, before that we drew and in fairness to Waterford they should probably have won that day. I don’t know if Waterford were 100% that day, they’re a very good side. They’re a good running side and they can take scores, we have a lot of respect for them as well.”

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TheScore Team

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