Previews: Ulster takes centre stage as Donegal and Monaghan battle it out for TG4 provincial senior final spot

THERE’S just one outstanding issue to be resolved ahead of the TG4 provincial senior football championship finals, with a spot in the Ulster decider up for grabs this weekend.

Cork and Kerry will battle it out for Munster glory, with date and venue to be confirmed for that game, while Galway and Mayo will renew their rivalry in the Connacht decider on June 24.

On July 1, it’s the meeting of reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin and Westmeath in the Leinster final, while Armagh are waiting for the winners of Monaghan v Donegal in the Ulster final, fixed for Sunday week, June 17.

Monaghan and Donegal go head to head at Healy Park in Omagh tomorrow evening (SAT, 7pm), while there’s also an Ulster intermediate semi-final down for decision, as Down and Fermanagh clash for the right to meet in-form Tyrone.

Elsewhere, the TG4 Leinster JFC clash between Louth and Carlow has been postponed as a mark of respect following the untimely passing of Wee County manager Mícheál McKeown this week.

Both counties had already progressed to a provincial final and the final game of the round-robin stage was a ‘dead rubber.’

They’ll now scheduled to meet in the TG4 Leinster JFC final at Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday, July 1 (12.0).

TG4 Ulster Ladies SFC semi-final

Saturday June 9: Donegal v Monaghan, Healy Park, Omagh, 7pm.

Donegal, the reigning TG4 Ulster senior champions, put their title on the line when they face Monaghan at Healy Park.

Monaghan, remarkably, are aiming for an 11th successive Ulster senior final appearance, and if they make it, it would be their 18th showpiece appearance in 19th seasons.

It’s an incredible record of consistency but they’ll have their work cut out against a Donegal side that, on their day, can be a match for anybody.

Donegal have had the Indian sign over Monaghan in recent years, including Ulster finals in 2015 and again last year, while Monaghan haven’t beaten their rivals in a competitive fixture since a Lidl NFL Division 1 clash in 2014.

Monaghan posted 4-11 against Donegal in the 2017 Ulster decider but just three points separated the sides when they met in the League this year, Donegal winning by 1-7 to 1-4.

Joint vice-captain and attacking ace Yvonne Bonner scored 1-2 in that League fixture and she was one of three Donegal players named recently on the Lidl NFL Division 1 Team of the year, along with skipper Karen Guthrie and Ciara Hegarty, who’s a current TG4 All Star and also joint vice-captain.

There’s class in the Donegal ranks but Monaghan are not without top performers themselves.

Ciara McAnespie remains one of the most dangerous forwards in the country and Muireann Atkinson carried her Gourmet Food Parlour O’Connor Cup winning form with DCU into the Lidl NFL campaign, as her displays also earned her a spot on the Division 1 Team of the League.

It will take a big performance from Monaghan to take down Donegal but the Farney County’s tradition in the Ulster championship should count for something.

TG4 Ulster Ladies IFC semi-final

Saturday June 9: Down v Fermanagh, Healy Park, Omagh, 5pm.

Down were hammered by Tyrone last weekend but must now rouse themselves for a second crack at reaching the TG4 Ulster intermediate final.

Fermanagh were unfortunate not to reach a Lidl NFL Division 4 semi-final and the reigning TG4 All-Ireland junior champions are now preparing for their first taste of championship fare back in the intermediate grade.

Down will hope that a game under their belts will stand to them and they’ll certainly have learned plenty about themselves following that chastening experience at the hands of Tyrone, who are very strong contenders for All-Ireland glory.

An Ulster final slot is not to be sneezed at, even if a formidable Tyrone are waiting for the winners of this semi-final.

Fermanagh enjoyed good wins over Derry, Louth and Carlow in Division 4 and if they can bring some of that form to the table, they’ll fancy their chances of sealing an Ulster final slot.

Down have a tendency to blow hot and cold. When they’re showing some kind of form, they’re a competitive outfit but when an opposition team gets a run on them, they can fold and concede big scores.

The Mourne County will hope that they display the former on this occasion but vast improvement is needed – and in a short space of time.

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