This weekend the first two sets of TG4 Provincial championship finals take place as Ulster and Connacht hold their provincial championship finals.
TG4 Ulster Junior Championship Final
Derry v Fermanagh, Sunday July 2nd, Clones 1:45pm
Derry surprised many when they overcame Antrim to clinch their place in the provincial decider. Derry showed plenty of recilience in their victory over Antrim by clinching their final berth in extra time with Emma Doherty proving the inspiration for their victory as she contributed 3-05 including 2 penalties. Fermanagh will be the opposition after the favourites cruised through to the decider. Fermanagh will be expected to clinch victory but they will have learned from Antrim's experience that you can't underestimate this up and coming Derry side.
TG4 Ulster Intermediate Championship Final
Down v Tyrone, Friday, June 30th, Clonmore 7:30pm
The meeting of Down and Tyrone could prove to be one of the best matches played this weekend. There is little to separate these two sides who have both had recent experiences of playing Senior football. Down competed well in Division 3 of the Lidl NFL as they continue to rebuild their side. Tyrone will feel that they underachieved in Division 2 having entered the campaign as one of the favourites for promotion. Tyrone are the defending champions and are expected by most to retain their crown with a team backboned by expereienced stars like Neamh Woods. Down will be very competitive and will want to claim a victory that will seal Ulster glory but that would also generate momentum going into the All Ireland series.
TG4 Ulster Senior Championship Final
Donegal v Monaghan, Sunday July 2nd, Clones 3:45pm
This match has the makings of being a fantastic contest between two of the top teams in Ladies Gaelic Football. Monaghan enter this match as the defending champions but they may not be the favourites as they face a Donegal side that are in red hot form.
Monaghan possess one of the most experienced squads in the game. Linda Martin, Aoife McAnespie, Sharon Courtney, Grainne McNally, Coara Courtney, Laura McEnaney, Ciara McAnespie, Ellen McCarron and Caoimhe Mohan have all played in multiple All Ireland Finals whilst young guns like Eimear McAnespie and Rosemary Courtney are amongst the most promising young talents around. Monaghan's form in the Lidl National Football League was patchy as they needed to win a relegation play off to secure their position in Division 1. However, Monaghan will look to 2016 for inspiration as they also endured a difficult league campaign before going on to claim the Ulster title and narrowly losing out to Cork in the All Ireland Semi Final.
Donegal will consider themselves unfortunate not to be entering this match as the Lidl NFL Division 1 Champions after they lost out byt the narrowest of margins to Cork. There is little doubt that they possess the most dangerous full forward line in the game where Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle can be almost unstoppable when they are on top form. The Hegarty sisters are essential members of the team where Ciara acts as the defensive leader at centre back whilst her sister, Niamh, is the chief playmaker at centre half forward.
There won't be very much between these two teams at the final whistle but some key match ups will go a long way to decide the winnder of this fascinating match. Monaghan's key defender, Sharon Courtney, will likely pick up Geraldine McLaughlin from the start, if Courtney can effectively cancel out McLaughlin it will be a huge plus for Monaghan. The other key battle area will be in midfield where Donegal's Katy Herron and Karen Guthrie will go head to head against the Monaghan duo of Cora Courtney and Eimear McAnespie. Donegal's recent form has been largely due to the midfield dominance enjoyed by Herron and Gutherie but they will have their work cut out for them when they take on Monaghan's youthful stars. Both of these teams have serious All Ireland ambitions and victory on Sunday will be a huge boost to those hopes of September glory.
This match will be streamed live by TG4 on https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=NgCQwOzi5Kw
TG4 Connacht Intermediate Championship Final
Leitrim v Sligo, Sunday, July 2nd, Elvery's MacHale Park 2:30pm
Sligo will put their Connacht Intermediate Championship on the line when they face their great rivals, Leitrim in the opening match at Elvery's MacHale Park on Sunday. In recent years it had been Leitrim that regularly held the upper hand when these two sides met biut that all changed after Sligo enjoyed a good win over Leitrim in the 2016 decider before losing out narrowly, after extra time, to eventual All Ireland champions, Kildare. Sligo will hope to finally achieve that All Ireland victory that has eluded them this year but in order to do so they must defeat a team that possesses one of the best forward in the country; Áine Tighe. Tighe is capable of running up match winning scores on her own and if she is given the space Leitrim will fancy their chances of winning back their Connacht title.
TG4 Connacht Senior Championship Final
Galway v Mayo, Sunday July 2nd, Elvery's MacHale Park, 4:30pm
After suffering 4 consecutive defeats at the hands of their great rivals in the Connacht Final, Mayo finally wrestled their title back from Galway last year. Frank Browne turned the fortunes of a Mayo side that were seemingly in decline to make them genuine All Ireland contenders in 2016. This year they had an indifferent League campaign as they finished mid table whereas Galway showed flashes of brilliance along with some disappointing performances.
Mayo's League form suffered as uncertainty surrounded the future of experienced trio of Cora Staunton, Yvonne Byrne and Martha Carter who are all set to start on Sunday. Their league form also suffered in the absence of their All Star midfield player, Fiona McHale, who has since returned to the panel and is also set to take her place in the starting line up on Sunday. This Mayo team is now back to full strength and should be a different proposition to the side that struggled throughout the League.
Galway will hope to build on their mixed League performances that saw them reach the knock out stages where they failed to perform in their semi final meeting with Donegal. There is a huge amount of talent in this Galway side where Emer Flaherty, Sinead Burke, Megan Glynn and Olivia Divilly are all exceptional players. They have received a huge boost with the return to fitness of Tracey Leonard who will start at centre forward where she will hope to find her best form after missing 2016 through injury.
These two sides usually bring the best out of each other when they meet and they usually produce some thrilling football. As always, Cora Staunton, will attract most attention but Galway have several aces on their sideline where Roisin Leonard, Geralding Connealy, Niamh Duggan and Shauna Hynes can all come in to change the flow of the game.
This match will be streamed live by TG4 on https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=hLoAwjS6Qg4