Dublin’s Premier Juniors at the final whistle in this year’s Littlewoods Ireland League Division 3 Final. © Nigel McCarthy

This Saturday afternoon sees the final round take place in this year’s Premier Junior Camogie Championship, and the pairings for the Semi Finals on August 12th will be decided.

Dublin manager Shane Plowman has turned the county’s Premier Junior panel into a serious force to be reckoned with. In 2016 nothing went right for this team in League or Championship, but this year there is absolutely no stopping Dublin’s dominance.

In April, after an amazing four from four run in the group stages of the Littlewoods Ireland League Division 3 competition, Dublin saw off the challenge of Clare in their Semi Final to set up a Final against rivals Roscommon. There have been many battles between these two sides over the years and there’s never much between them leaving the field.

But as Dublin captain Emer Keenan confirmed in her winning acceptance speech, Roscommon came up against a very stubborn Dublin side that weren’t leaving the league title behind this time. And they didn’t. After knocking on the door for so many years, Dublin were “finally” league champions and the captain warned there was plenty more to for the championship campaign ahead.

Dublin Premier Junior captain Emer Keenan holds aloft the Littlewoods Ireland Division 3 League Cup. © Nigel McCarthy

Leinster didn’t go to plan however, and Dublin, with only a week to prepare following their league success, sadly were knocked out by Carlow at the first hurdle in the Intermediate competition.

So back to the drawing board for Shane and his backroom team, to evaluate and prepare for their impending All Ireland competition. The championship this year was split into two groups with Dublin drawn in Group 1 along with Offaly, Waterford, Westmeath and Wicklow. Group 2 was made up of Armagh, Clare, Kerry and Roscommon.

As Dublin head into their final round game against Westmeath they are on a 100% record and will want to keep that. They have made easy work of their first three games, with massive wins over Waterford, Offaly and Wicklow. But this weekend will certainly be their sternest test this year.

Westmeath are level on points in the table with Dublin, but 14 points the better on score difference. And like Dublin, the girls from the Lake County have comfortably steered their way through the competition thus far. While these two teams may be a division apart in the national league, there’s certainly not much separating them ahead of this huge game.

With both teams already 6 points ahead of Offaly and Waterford in the table, they are both guaranteed qualification to the competitions Semi Finals, the only thing that remains is who tops the group and who finishes as runners up. And the importance of that outcome is who each of them will face in the Semi Finals.

The 2017 Littlewoods Ireland League Division 3 Champions © Nigel McCarthy

Group 2 as it stands has three of it’s four teams challenging for their two qualifying spots. Kerry are currently top of the table on 6 points, with Armagh and Roscommon both on 3 points before the last games are played this weekend. Kerry have qualified and would be favourites to beat Clare in their final round game. That would put them on 9 points. However if Clare manage to beat them on Saturday, Kerry will still qualify, but their final standing will be determined by the outcome of the other game in the group between Roscommon and Armagh, and score difference.

Whoever wins between Armagh and Roscommon will qualify. Should Kerry lose and Armagh win it will be down to score difference between the two sides as there is currently only 0-03 between them. Roscommon are currently on minus 0-02 points difference, so they would have a huge mountain to climb to overtake Kerry in the table, should Kerry lose of course and they beat Armagh.

So it’s all to play for, and Dublin Camogie fans will be watching and waiting in anticipation to see the their Premier Junior panel continue this fantastic year, and hopefully captain Emer Keenan’s prophecy after the League Division 3 final will ring through.

“What can I say, thanks for sticking by us. If last season was a learning curve, I think we took the lessons well, and there’s plenty more left in the tank of this team so roll on the rest of the year.”