Waterford Intermediate Ladies Football team make the long journey to Sligo this weekend to play the Yate County in the fifth round of games in this years National Football league and for Waterford they will know that should they return to Waterford on Sunday evening with a result, they will have secured a place for themselves in the semi finals of this years league with games still to come against Leitrim and Armagh.
Twelve months ago, Waterford had a very disappointing league campaign and were relegated twenty four hours after they played their last game when Clare won away to Westmeath, but this year manager Pat O’Brien has brought in some new blood into the panel and things appear to be going well.
Before the league Waterford won the shield final of the Jim Kennedy Cup Tournament in Rathkeale and since then they have collected full points from their four games played in the National League.
To date the management have used twenty three players in their four games, just three of which (Mary Foley, Karen McGrath and Michelle Ryan) have started and finished every game.
While scoring appeared to be a problem in some games this year, it does not appear to be the case this year as eleven players have already got their name on the score sheet.
It is no surprise that the experienced Michelle Ryan is the team’s top scorer with 3-17 from four games. She is one of only three players to score in every game this year in the league, the others are her Ballymacarbry Club mate Linda Wall who has hit 1-8 playing in the half forwards while Ballyduff Upper’s Hannah Landers is proving to be a handful for all defences hitting 5-6 in the four games played to date.
They have been ably assisted by Old Parish’s Margaret Revins who has hit 4-5 in games played so far this year and Aileen Wall who has registered 3-7. Liz Devine, Róisín Tobin, Michelle McGrath, Elaine Power, Mairead Wall and Lauren McGregor have also chipped in with smaller but still equally as important tallies when it comes to scoring.
In total Waterford have hit an impressive sixteen goals and fifty two points in their four games played to date and will be looking to improve on that this weekend.
Last year playing against some senior teams in the second division of the league, conceding scores was a problem for Waterford, but this year the side has worked on this and they are proving to be much tighter at the back, conceding three goals and twenty-nine points in their four games played to date.
Heading into this weekends game, Sligo sit in a mid table position, having won just one of their four games played to date, that being an impressive 6-13 to 1-10 win over Offaly in the third round of games. In their other games they have lost to Leitrim, Longford and last weekend away to Tipperary.
Sligo are a side that Waterford cannot afford to take likely as they have hit two more goals than what Waterford have registered, hitting eighteen goals and thirty three points in their four games played so far.
While scoring does not appear to be a problem for Sligo in the league so far, the concession of scores appears to be a major problem. In four games so far Twenty one goals have passed the Sligo defence as have thirty eight points.
Noelle Gormley and Grainne Carty appear to be their main treats in front of goal, having already struck a number of scores for the Yates County side so far with Stephanie O’Reilly and Elise Codd also chipping in with crucial scores along the way.
Indications from games played to date are that this could well prove to be a high scoring game. Both sides have played Longford, Offaly and Tipperary. Waterford have won all three games, beating Longford and Offaly by big margins while the game with Tipperary as was expected proved to be a close fought battle.
Sligo in their games against the same opposition have beaten Offaly who are finding life tough after they came up from division four last year, but lost to Longford by six points and to Tipperary by thirteen.
This is a game that Waterford should win, but it is often the case that a game you are expected to win a little complacency sets in and a team gets caught.
Waterford will be well aware that Sligo could provide stiff opposition, but they should be good enough to win the game, maybe with something to spare.