Ladies previews: More provincial silverware up for grabs this weekend

June 22, 2018

Elvery's MacHale Park, Castlebar will host the Connacht ladies senior football final between Mayo and Galway on Sunday.
©INPHO/Dave Farrell.

Compiled by Jackie Cahill

THERE are two senior TG4 provincial titles up for grabs this weekend, with the Munster and Connacht finals down for decision.

On Saturday at Cork IT (2.0), Cork and Kerry meet for Southern honours, before Mayo and Galway go head-to-head at Elvery's MacHale Park in Castlebar for the Connacht crown (4.0).

Cork are looking to wrestle the title back from holders Kerry, who beat Waterford in last year's decider.

In Connacht, Galway are aiming for a sixth Connacht title in seven seasons, as they look to make it two-in-a-row.

The big team news from opponents Mayo is that star forward Cora Staunton is named on the bench for this one, after the 36-year-old Carnacon superstar returned to the fold recently for a 24th successive championship campaign.

The TG4 Connacht intermediate champions will also be crowned on Sunday, as Sligo and Roscommon meet for silverware at 2pm, a game that will serve a curtain-raiser to the senior clash at Elvery's MacHale Park.

TG4 Munster ladies senior football final

Saturday June 23: Cork v Kerry; Cork IT, 2pm

OLD rivals Cork and Kerry meet again in a TG4 Munster decider, with the Rebelettes back in the final for the first time since last winning it in 2016.

Cork's long unbeaten run in Munster finals was ended last year when they were knocked out by Kerry in the round-robin phase, before the Kingdom defeated Waterford in the final. 

Kerry, under new manager Eddie Sheehy, claimed an impressive semi-final victory over Waterford last time out, as Cork accounted for Tipperary in front of a big crowd in Ardfinnan.

Cork will start as favourites with the bookies but Kerry, as holders, will be fiercely competitive as they look to retain the title.

Kerry beat Cork in the 2013 and 2015 Munster finals and they won't go into this one short of confidence and belief. 

The O'Sullivan sisters, Doireann and captain Ciara, will lead the Cork attacking charge, while Orla Finn's four points were crucial in the Tipp win. 

Dual player Hannah Looney is also named up front while Róisín Phelan returns to fill the full-back position.

Kerry will look to Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh at centre forward to pull the strings and provide ammunition for captain Sarah Houlihan inside.

However, latest indications are that a decision on Ní Mhuircheartaigh's fitness will be left until the last minute, after she picked up a shoulder injury in the Waterford win.

Aislinn Desmond provides a steady and experienced head at centre back, with All Star Lorraine Scanlon anchoring midfield alongside Amanda Brosnan.

Remarkably, a Kerry win would hand them back-to-back Munster senior crowns for the first time since 1989/90.

The Munster winners will have Monaghan and Armagh in their round-robin All-Ireland qualifier group, with the runners-up to face Tipperary and Ulster champions Donegal.

Teams:

Cork: M O'Brien; C Collins, R Phelan, E Spillane; M O'Callaghan, M Duggan, S Kelly; A Hutchings, O Farmer; H Looney, D O'Sullivan, L Coppinger; Á O'Sullivan, C O'Sullivan, O Finn.

Kerry: L Fitzgerald; L Coughlan, S Murphy, E Lynch; D Kearney, A Desmond, A O'Connell; L Scanlon, A Brosnan; A Foley, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh, E Dineen; A Murphy, E O'Leary, S Houlihan.

TG4 Connacht ladies senior football final

Sunday June 24: Mayo v Galway, Elvery's MacHale Park, Castlebar, 4pm

Cora Staunton's back in the Mayo fold for a 24th successive championship campaign - but named on the bench for Sunday's TG4 Connacht final meeting with Galway. 

Manager Peter Leahy has opted to keep the Carnacon superstar in reserve for the Elvery's MacHale Park clash. 

Leahy's kept faith with the six forwards who started in the Lidl National League Division 1 final defeat against Dublin last month, as Mayo aim to take the provincial title back from holders Galway. 

But the Tribeswomen boast a very impressive record in recent Connacht deciders, and are aiming for a sixth title in seven seasons.

Aisling Tarpey starts in goal for Mayo, which releases Rachel Kearns to play at right-half-back, following her stint between the sticks during the League campaign.

There are a number of changes to the Galway team which last lined out in a competitive fixture against Dublin in the League semi-final.

Lisa Murphy's in for Dearbhla Gower between the sticks, while there are three changes in personnel further out the pitch.

Galway were surprisingly big winners in last year's Connacht final in Castlebar but Mayo still managed to regroup and reach a TG4 All-Ireland senior-final.

A lengthy lay-off between provincial final and All-Ireland quarter-final didn't suit Galway as they were comprehensively beaten by Cork, but the new round-robin phase of the All-Ireland series should alleviate that problem for the winners, who will have the Leinster champions and Cavan in the qualifiers. 

For the Connacht champions, it's Waterford and the Leinster runners-up in the round-robin system.

Teams:

Mayo: A Tarpey; E Lowther, S Tierney, S Ludden; R Kearns, D Caldwell, D Hughes; A Gilroy, C McManamon; F McHale, F Doherty, S Cafferky; N Kelly, S Rowe, G Kelly.

Galway: L Murphy; F Cooney, S Lynch, S Burke; E Flaherty, N Ward, C Cooney; S Divilly, A Davoren; O Divilly, T Leonard, A McDonagh; M Seoighe, R Leonard, L Coen.

TG4 Connacht ladies intermediate football final

Sunday June 24: Sligo v Roscommon, Elvery's MacHale Park, Castlebar, 2pm

Sligo, the holders, put their TG4 Connacht intermediate title on the line when they face Roscommon at Elvery's MacHale Park on Sunday. 

With Leitrim not participating in the 2018 championship, this is a straight shoot-out for intermediate honours in the West. 

Sligo will be aiming to bounce back from relegation to Division 3 of the Lidl League this year, while Roscommon finished just outside the top four placings in the third tier.

Katie Walsh was Sligo's sole representative on the Lidl Division 2 Team of the League and is a forward of genuine class. 

Roscommon were also honoured on the Lidl Team of the League, in Division 3, with Rebecca Finan chosen at full-forward.

These two attackers are players to keep a close eye on as the counties battle it out for silverware.

Teams:

Roscommon: H Cummins; H Ennis, R Mullaney, R Brady; A McLoone, A McAuliffe, S Kenny; J Cregg, J Higgins; A Kelly, R Wynne, L Fleming; S Brady, R Finan, N Feeney.

Sligo: M McDermott; M McNamara, G O'Loughlin, C Dunne; L Casey, L Boles, S Regan; S Reynolds, L.A. Laffey; K.A. Henry, E O'Reilly, N Brennan; K Walsh, B Connolly, T Walsh.

Follow our match tracker for a bumper weekend of action including three provincial finals and eight qualifier games from the All-Ireland football championship.



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