Sunday 22nd November 2020
Antrim and Down will contest the Intermediate decider, while Cavan, who have already claimed the Nancy Murray Cup as Junior A championship this month, will look to complete a unique double when they cross swords with Armagh.
Down were beaten finalists two years ago before falling at the penultimate hurdle to ultimate victors Westmeath 12 months ago, and they accounted for 2017 champions Meath by 0-14 to 0-8 at St Tiernach’s Park.
The Royals were back in the Intermediate Championship after suffering relegation from the Senior ranks in 2019 but they were always second best in Clones, apart from a period of about 10 minutes in the final quarter, when they reduced the margin to three.
But Down always gave the impression they had another gear and confirmed that as Niamh Mallon fired a brace of points and the excellent Saoirse McCartan added another score to confirm their qualification.
Down led by 0-6 to 0-2 at half-time, which flattered Meath, as the Mourne County outfit shot some bad wides and failed to capitalise on a couple of goal opportunities. Mallon adopted a deeper role than many have been accustomed with and got on plenty of possession, while Fionnuala Carr was extremely effective picking up breaking ball in front of her full-back line, ensuring the legendary Jane Dolan was starved of possession.
Paula O’Hagan gathered a clearance quickly and returned it from 50m over the black spot, followed with a pointed free and Mallon flashed a shot just over when a goal was on.
Sinéad Hackett and Aidín Slattery got on the scoresheet for Meath but another converted free by O’Hagan and a splendid strike by McCartan, after winning possession herself and exchanging passes with the industrious Lauren Clarke, put Down four ahead at the break.
Their grip tightened after the resumption, O’Hagan continuing to punish the indiscretions of the Meath defence, while Sara-Louise Graffin and McCartan added to the tally from play and though the Royals were determined, they ultimately fell short.