By Daragh Ó Conchúir
THE 103rd Ashbourne Cup festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with teams from third level colleges around the country competing for the Ashbourne, Purcell and Fr Meachair Cups.
NUI Galway plays host to the annual affair. The Semi-Finals will be held at Dangan Regional Sports Grounds on Saturday, with Ballinasloe GAA the venue for Sunday's Finals.
The Ashbourne Cup Final will be streamed live at 4pm on the Camogie Association's Facebook page and YouTube channel.
As ever, the weekend offers up the cream of the camogie crop from around the country in one venue and here are just some players to keep an eye on.
ORLA CRONIN (UCC & CORK)
The skull and crossbones contingent includes a string of players that played as Cork were crowned All-Ireland champions last year and indeed will line out with a number of multiple winners on the biggest stage. Orla Cronin might not have the highest profile but she has proved a vital player for Paudie Murray's Rebels. Diminutive in stature she may be but the Enniskeane attacker has a big heart to go with her neat stickwork and illustrated her effectiveness on national television last September when named player of the match after a brilliant All-Ireland performance that not just yielded three points but curbed the influence of Kilkenny's playmaker extraordinaire Anne Dalton. Will captain UCC as they pursue a first Ashbourne Cup since 2003.
CHLOE FOXE (UCD & WEXFORD)
Wexford are in a rebuilding phase and Chloe Foxe was one of the real successes of last year's campaign for them, part of a new generation coming through along with Sarah O'Connor and Joanne Dillon. The St Martin's 20-year-old was entrusted with freetaking duties and flourished, while also making a big impact from general play with her trickery, speed, low centre of gravity and obviously, eye for a score. If UCD are to end a drought going back to 2008, when they completed a two-in-a-row, Foxe is almost sure to be firing on all cylinders.
BETH CARTON (UL & WATERFORD)
Beth Carton had just started sixth year when playing a prominent role as Waterford annexed the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship in 2015. She was only in fifth year when her side's leading scorer in the League. A National Cup winner in basketball too, with Waterford Wildcats, Carton was destined for stardom with a hurley in her hand. In 2014, she was player of the match in both the minor B All-Ireland, when she registered a hat-trick of goals, and the U16B decider, in which she clocked up 2-11 as Waterford also completed a notable double. An All-Star nominee last year, Carton has been clocking up significant personal tallies in the League again this term. She will be chasing her second Ashbourne Cup, and UL their third on the trot, having scored three points as the Shannonsiders edged out UCC in last year's final.
AOIFE O'DONOHUE (NUIG & GALWAY)
A current All-Star, Aoife O'Donohue has carried her form of last year into 2018, scoring a sensational solo goal for Galway in last Sunday's National League victory over Tipperary. She is NUIG's captain as they bid to get their hands on the Purcell Cup for the first time. Lightning quick and a fantastic finisher, the Mullagh star is also renowned for her insatiable appetite for work in tracking back and forcing turnovers. Her direct marker cannot expect a moment of peace. The number on Donohue's jersey is only a rough guide and she will definitely be leading by example.
SOME OTHER COUNTY PLAYERS PARADING THEIR TALENTS
Amy O'Connor (UCC & Cork), Orla O'Dwyer (UL & Tipperary), Lorraine Bray (WIT & Waterford), Jackie Quigley (UCD & Wexford), Caoimhe Lyons (UL & Limerick), Niamh McCarthy (UCC & Cork), Niamh Mallon (UUJ & Down), Sarah Fryday (UL & Tipperary), Chloe Sigerson (UCC & Cork), Úna Sinnott (UCD & Wexford), Zoe McInerney (Garda College & Clare), Pamela Mackey (UCC & Cork), Jenny Grace (LIT & Tipperary), Mairead Jennings (AIT & Offaly), Hannah Looney (UCC & Cork), Joanne Dillon (WIT & Wexford), Ereena Fryday (UL & Tipperary), Shauna Quirke (WIT & Tipperary), Méabh Cahalane (UCC & Cork), Róisín Howard (UL & Tipperary), Libby Coppinger (UCC & Cork).Tweet