Sunday will see the Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 and 2 finals take place in Parnell Park, with both games almost too tight to call.
Lidl National Football League Division 1 Final
Cork v Donegal, Parnell Park, 4:00pm (C. McManus)
This is the first time that Cork and Donegal will be meeting in a Lidl National Football League final and the level of experience of both sides going into this match couldn't be much different. Cork come into this match on the trail of their 5th Division 1 title in a row and what would be their 11th since 2005. Donegal, on the other hand, are contesting their first ever Division 1 final although they were victorious in the Division 2 decider last May.
Cork are coming into this match without the services of their captain, Ciara O'Sullivan, who, along with her sister and regular Cork starter, Roisín, are away travelling. Despite these losses this Cork side are showing no signs of weakness. Bríd Stack is starting to get back to her best following her return to the panel in April whilst Ciara's position has been filled by her own sister, and new captain, Doireann O'Sullivan. In the past there has been a criticism that Cork were overly dependent on one or two scorers; however, their inside forward line of O'Sullivan, Orla Finn and form player, Eimear Scally, is full of potential.
Donegal have been the form team in the country and their dismantling of Galway in the semi final was further proof of their soaring confidence levels. This Donegal team is a well balanced and disciplined unit who are extremely strong in defence where Ciara Hegarty is the rock at the heart of their rearguard. Their midfield of Katie Herron and Karen Guthrie is a dominant pairing with Niamh Hegarty providing the creative spark from centre forward. The most influential players on the Donegal team are undoubtedly their dynamic pairing in the full forward line of Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle who have scored 12-36 between them in their last 4 matches together since McMonagle returned to the panel in March.
This is a match that has the potential to deliver a cracking contest. It will be a fascinating tactical battle with both sides more than comfortable conceding possession and defending but both have massive scoring potential in their forward lines. Cork will be favourites for this match considering their record but if there is one team in the country capable of defeating them at this time then it is their opposition on Sunday and should McLaughlin and McMonagle get enough ball they are sure to cause plenty of problems.
Cork Team: 1. Martina O'Brien (Clonakilty) 2. Marie Ambrose (St. Val's) 3. Roisín Phelan (Aghada) 4. Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues) 5. Melissa Duggan (Doheny's) 6. Bríd Stack (St. Mary's) 7. Shauna Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Buí) 8. Niamh Cotter (Beara) 9. Jess O'Shea (Inch Rovers) 10. Libby Coppinger (St. Colum's) 11. Bríd O'Sullivan (Mourneabbey) 12. Orlagh Farmer (Midleton) 13. Eimear Scally (Éire Óg) 14. Doireann O'Sullivan (Mourneabbey) 15. Orla Finn (Kinsale)
Donegal Team: 1. Aoife McColgan (Malin) 2. Treasa Doherty (Carndonagh) 3. Emer Gallagher (Termon) 4. Nicole McLaughlin (Termon) 5. Therese McClafferty (Termon) 6. Ciara Hegarty (Moville) 7. Kate Keeney (Four Masters) 8. Katie Herron (Glenfin) 9. Karen Guthrie (Glenfin) 10. Gráinne Houston (Glenfin) 11. Niamh Hegarty (Moville) 12. Shannon McGruddy (Termon) 13. Roisín Friel (Termon) 14. Geraldine McLaughlin (Termon) 15. Yvonne McMonagle (Glenfin)
Lidl National Football League Division 2 Final
Cavan v Westmeath, Parnell Park, 2:00pm (S. Mulvihill)
Cavan and Westmeath will take the field in Parnell Park knowing that they need to seize the opportunity for promotion to the top division of the Lidl NFL.
Cavan had been making great progress in recent years but, after a disappointing championship campaign last year, they had come to something of a standstill. However, after finishing at the top of a very competitive Division 2 they will go into this match high on confidence. They have an experienced spine to the team with Ailish Cornyn and Donna English showing great leadership throughout their campaign. Expect Westmeath to pay close attention to the Cavan talisman, Aisling Doonan, which may leave space for Aishling Sheridan and Claragh O'Reilly to have a big impact.
Westmeath were left heartbroken after losing last year's final, their second defeat at this stage in three years. There is a determination amongst their players and management to make up for previous disappointments. Karen McDermott and Maud Annie Foley will look to control the middle of the field whilst the freetaking of Leona Archibold will be vital to their chances. Fiona Claffey is one of their leaders and her link up play with their extremely dangerous full forward, Laura Lee Walsh, is essential should Westmeath hope to make up for their recent disappointments.
These two sides know each other extremely well and both are very well prepared. Expect there to be very little between the sides at the final whistle with the result in the balance until the dying minutes.
Cavan Team: 1. Elaine Walsh (Killygarry) 2. Rachael Doonan (Templeport) 3. Ailish Cornyn (St. Francis) 4. Mona Sheridan (Mullahoran) 5. Sinéad Greene (Templeport) 6. Laura Fitzpatrick (St. Finbarrs) 7. Sheila Reilly (Mullahoran) 8. Sinead O'Sullivan (Lacken) 9. Donna English (Arva) 10. Caitriona Smith (Killygarry) 11. Amy Rooney (Kingscourt Stars) 12. Neasa Byrd (Crosserlough) 13. Aishling Sheridan (Mullahoran) 14. Claragh O'Reily (Lurgan) 15. Aisling Doonan (Templeport)
Westmeath Team: 1. Karen Walsh (Milltown) 2. Rachel Dillon (Milltown) 3. Amie Giles (Coralstown/Kinnegad) 4. Aileen Martin (St. Loman's Mullingar) 5. Fiona Coyle (St. Mary's Rochfortbridge) 6. Rebecca Dunne (St. Loman's Mullingar) 7. Laura Brennan (Garrycastle) 8. Karen McDermott (Rochfortbridge) 9. Maud Annie Foley (Coralstown/Kinnegad) 10. Fiona Claffey (Foxrock Cabinteely) 11. Leona Archibold (St. Loman's Mullingar) 12. Kelly Boyce Jordan (Milltown) 13. Lucy McCartan (St. Loman's Mullingar) 14. Laura Lee Walsh (Na Fianna) 15. Ciara Blundell (St. Loman's Mullingar)