CAMOGIE: (Preview) – GALWAY vs TIPPERARY (Saturday, 2.30pm Banagher) 

REPRO FREE***PRESS RELEASE NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** All-Ireland Minor A Championship Final, MacDonagh Park, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary 22/4/2017 Clare vs Galway Galway players celebrate with the trophy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Recent rivals Galway and Tipperary go head-to-head today in the All-Ireland Minor Camogie Semi-Final as the Tribesgirls aim to keep their title defence intact. 

Despite two losses during the group stages, Lorraine Larkin’s charges finished second in Group One and now meet the Premier County who boast an impressive track record against Galway.

Tipperary emerged 4-9 to 2-6 winners after a replay in the 2016 decider and also picked up two wins at under 16 level.  But this is a different group of players representing the maroon and white and Galway have held the upper hand since.

Indeed, Galway are three-in-a-row winners at under 16 level and followed through with an impressive thumping of Clare in last year’s minor final.  And with Sarsfields and Athenry involved in delayed All-Ireland club camogie finals last month, Larkin had to deal with a limited deck.

Their 0-13 to 1-8 loss to Kilkenny the first day but Galway under pressure but they replied with a 2-12 to 1-4 victory over Wexford.  However, after coming up short in Cork (1-11 to 0-12), they needed a big result in their final group game.

And they didn’t disappoint beating Dublin 4-8 to 0-3 to qualify in second place on scoring difference.

Tipperary also lost their opening encounter to Waterford (3-11 to 3-7) but bounced back taking victories against Limerick, Clare and Offaly.  And even though Cian Tracey’s team may be slight underdogs, they know they can match their opponents.

Galway will hope their key players click.  St. Thomas’ Sarah Healy was Galway senior goalkeeper last year and should take her place between the sticks.

Leah Burke, Alannah Kelly and Kate Screen are among the defence while Niamh Horan and Tegan Canning are expected to be partners in midfield.   And Galway’s dangerous inside line of Niamh Niland, Siobhan McGrath and Chloe Quinn Reilly are capable of doing serious damage on their day.

Galway teams have timed their run the last couple of seasons and this current crop are no different.  They were the top team in under 16 and with all players available, they’ll look to finish strongly again.  Tipperary won’t fear the challenge but Galway should be back in an All-Ireland Final this evening.

Verdict: Galway 

The other semi-final also takes place today in Ballyagran as undefeated Cork meet Munster rivals Clare.  That game also throws-in at 2.30pm.