Round 2 promises to be another entertaining weekend in Division 2B, with Clare, Galway and Cork hoping to preserve their unbeaten start to the league.
Kilkenny v Wexford, Saturday February 3rd, Graiguenamanagh GAA, 12pm
With both sides getting their campaigns off to a losing start last weekend, Kilkenny and Wexford will be out for a better performance in the early throw-in this weekend.
Kilkenny slumped to defeat at the hands of the Galway Intermediate side, a contest that due to the elements was a game of two halves in Kinvara as they trailed 0-12 to 0-1 by the time the whistle sounded for the break. Still KIlkenny battled hard in the second half, only suffering a 0-14 to 1-8 defeat in the end.
Rachel Dowling was a key scorer last weekend for this Kilkenny Intermediate side, chipping in with seven points, four from frees, the Cats will be hopeful Dowling can be another threat this weekend to see them past Wexford. Afton Grace bagged the only goal of the contest that gave Kilkenny hopes of taking something from the game, it was just too late arriving in stoppage time.
Wexford will have another tough test also this weekend, after a sluggish second half last weekend against Clare the reigning Premier Junior All Ireland Champions, a lot of reflection was made after their defeat.
A side with plenty of new faces on board, Wexford are looking to experiment with the selection process, Wexford are chasing a first appearance in the league decider since 2022, following their success with league and Premier Junior All-Ireland double in 2021 under current boss Alan Brennan, the side will have work to do this weekend to get a win on the board.
Rathnure native Nora Higgins who captains the side was one of their main scoring outputs in that 0-13 to 0-9 defeat at the hands of the Banner last weekend, plenty of experience in this Wexford side but fresh faces also, winner takes all for both in this one.
Clare v Tipperary, Saturday February 3rd, Meelick, 2pm
With a win on the board after round one, Clare aim to remain unbeaten in these early rounds as they welcome Tipp to the Banner, with throw-in at 2pm in Meelick.
Reigning All-Ireland Premier Junior champions Clare looked sharp last weekend, capitalising on a poor second half from Wexford to take the spoils on the road, now in their first home tie of the year, the Banner will want to continue a strong start to their league campaign.
Ashling Cooney was a standout from their win last weekend, leading the charge from the full-forward line, the forward will pose another threat this weekend, looking to be the main catalyst behind this Clare offensive line.
John Carmody’s side look impressive, namely playing with two inside forwards, Cooney and Olivia Phelan bringing the danger, while Laoibhse O’Donnell who was named in that full-forward line was given a free role to move around the field. Clare look to have done their homework from last year and do look a serious contender.
A repeat of last year’s Premier Junior Final, Tipp aiming not to see a similar outcome come Saturday evening, the Premier left dwelling in defeat last summer and will want to go strong in this competition.
The Tipp Juniors were much-changed from the one that lost to Clare in the All-Ireland final last August that took to the field on Saturday to take on Cork in their opening round tie. On the wrong end of a 1-10 to 0-09 score line, an improved performance is needed this weekend.
Trailing at the break last weekend 0-7 to 0-2, Tipp were chasing Cork for large parts and certainly battling back in the second half they fought till the end but the concession of a goal really hurt their chances. Jenny Grace hit six points last weekend from the Premier’s half-forward line, four coming from free’s, they will want more scoring output this weekend to get past a tricky Banner side.
Galway v Cork, Saturday February 3rd, Kinvara, 2pm
A meeting of Galway and Cork will be an intriguing battle in 2B, with a winning start for both coming in narrow three and four point wins respectively, all signs this could well be the game of the weekend in this Division.
The Tribeswomen performed admirably well last campaign, losing a host of their All Ireland winners from 2022, it was not easy starting last year’s run, with a win notched this campaign already, they look an impressive unit and will want to keep that form going for this a consecutive home appearance.
Galway did use the elements in Kinvara to their advantage last weekend against Kilkenny, Niamh Spellman a deadly accurate free taker, striking six of her seven points over from placed ball scenarios. While Spellman delivered well, as did Aoibheann Barry, this side have scoring output littered through their ranks.
Conor Dolan’s charges looked sharp last time out, while they were unable to contend with the stiff wind in the second stanza, they still clocked up scores and in all areas of the field looked impressive. A strong continuation from that opening day showing is the aim for hosts this weeknd.
Cork also started well overcoming Tipp, once again they are on the road but can they claim another success in the question. The Leesiders will always be a danger, a team that lost out to Galway in the 2022 All Ireland Final, starting strong last year they claimed the 2B title and a Munster success but missed out come the All Ireland stage
Lauren Homan looks like a real gem for this side, scoring 1-4 last weekend, the goal in the second half really killed off the Tipp comeback, a vital contribution from someone who looks like a real threat when allowed pasture to take a score.
Certainly last week was a great showing but they did allow Tipp back and only won by four in the end, still for a first run out they looked impressive, this Galway side will be a real test for their credentials with plenty of other tough games to come on the horizon.