The penultimate step: Lidl Ladies NFL semi-final previews

Lidl Ladies National Football League semi-final previews

Compiled by Jackie Cahill

Sunday 22nd April 2018 

Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 – Semi Finals (Result on the Day) 

Dublin v Galway, 3.00pm, Coralstown/Kinnegad, Westmeath, (S Mulvihill)

Dublin, the reigning TG4 All-Ireland champions, are going in search of a very first Lidl National League top-flight crown.

Their form en route to the last four was impressive – as the Sky Blues collected six wins from seven outings.

The one blip, however, was at the hands of Sunday’s opponents, in what was a crucial win for Stephen Glennon’s Galway.

But as Galway’s Sarah Conneally pointed out this week, that result may have been skewed somewhat by the fact that a number of Dublin stars were only back a matter of days from the TG4 All Stars tour to Bangkok.

The Tribeswomen edged into the last four by virtue of scoring more points (16) than Donegal (1-13) in the direct head-to-head game between the counties, after their regulation fixture finished level and they were deadlocked on points following the group phase.

Dublin have gone with 12 of last September’s All-Ireland final winning team for this fixture, in what is a strong starting line-up announced by manager Mick Bohan.

Bohan, who has the Leinster and national championship crowns safely in his possession, would dearly love to land League silverware too and before a ball is kicked in anger at the semi-final stage, they’re the bookies favourites to go all the way.

But Galway, under Glennon’s stewardship, are an emerging outfit and with recent underage teams hoovering up a number of titles, the future is bright West of the Shannon.

Captain Tracey Leonard will lead the Galway charge from centre forward, while the likes of Áine McDonagh, Mairead Seoighe and Conneally are also capable of hurting the Jackies on the scoreboard.

Dublin: C Trant; M Byrne, D Murphy, L Caffrey; S McGrath, S Goldrick, N Collins; L Magee, O Carey; N Owens, N McEvoy, L Davey; O Whyte, N Healy, S Aherne.

Galway: D Gower; F Cooney, S Lynch, S Burke; C Cooney, N Ward, L Walsh; L Gannon, O Divilly; Á McDonagh, T Leonard, A Davoren; M Seoighe, S Conneally, L Coen.

Cork v Mayo, 3.00pm, St Brendan’s Park, Birr, Offaly, (B Rice)

A repeat of the 2016 decider sees holders Cork, chasing six-in-a-row, up against Mayo at the penultimate stage of the competition.

This is also a repeat of last year’s TG4 All-Ireland semi-final between the counties and the fixture will provide a pretty accurate gauge of both teams’ progress in 2018.

Mayo have been boosted by the return to the squad of experienced defender Martha Carter but manager Peter Leahy indicated this week that she won’t feature in the concluding stages of the League.

Cora Staunton is back in Ireland following a successful stint with GWS Giants in the Women’s AFL, and Leahy will hope that she features during the summer, while veteran goalkeeper Yvonne Byrne is another player yet to declare her intentions for 2018.

Despite Staunton’s absence, Mayo have progressed to a League semi-final and with a strong spread of scorers throughout the team.

Sarah Rowe has emerged as a real leader in attack and she’s flanked in an impressive full-forward line by the Kelly sisters, Niamh and Grace.

Cork have real firepower of their own to call upon as Eimear Scally and Orla Finn form two-thirds of a potentially lethal inside line.

The O’Sullivan sisters, Doireann and Ciara, line out in the half-forward line, with Aisling Hutchings and Brid O’Sullivan anchoring midfield.

Cork won the group fixture between the counties but Leahy will hope that his players learned the lessons from that outing as they prepare to face Ephie Fitzgerald’s champions.

Cork: M O’Brien; M Ambrose, E Meaney, E Spillane; M O’Callaghan, M Duggan, S Kelly; A Hutchings, B O’Sullivan; C O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, O Farmer; L Coppinger, E Scally, O Finn.

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

Lidl Ladies NFL Division 2 – Semi Finals (Result on the Day) 

Waterford v Cavan, 1.00pm, St Brendan’s Park, Birr, Offaly, (G McMahon)

Waterford ended up topping the Division 2 standings after seeing off Tipperary in their final group outing, to finish at the summit on the head-to-head rule.

That’s pitched the Déise into a last-four clash with Cavan, who secured their spot in the semi-finals with an impressive victory over Tyrone last time out.

Waterford were Division 3 champions two years ago while Cavan fell at the final hurdle against Westmeath last year in their quest to secure top-flight football.

It’s arguably a more competitive Division 2 this year as Armagh dropped from the top tier, while Tipperary have been going great guns since coming up from Division 3.

But Waterford would consider progression to a Division 2 decider as real progress, following a 2017 championship campaign that saw them beat Cork and Kerry in Munster, before they beat Cavan in the qualifiers.

When the sides met in the group stages, Waterford ran out 4-9 to 1-6 winners and Cavan will hope to close the gap.

They’ve had the Sheridans, Bronagh and Aishling, in superb form and Aishling captured a Gourmet Food Parlour O’Connor Cup medal with DCU recently.

Aisling Doonan is another marquee forward for the Breffni girls while Waterford will look to the sharpshooting skills of Maria Delahunty and Aileen Wall.

Waterford: G Kenneally; K McGrath, M McGrath, R Casey; M Wall, E Murray, M Dunford; K McGrath, K Murray; A Murray, G Power, L McGregor; M Delahunty, E Fennell, A Wall.

Cavan: E Baugh; R Doonan, L Fitzpatrick, J Moore; S Greene, M Sheridan, N Byrd; C Dolan, D English; G McGlade, B Sheridan, A Sheridan; R O’Keeffe, A Doonan, C Finnegan.

Tipperary v Armagh, 1.00pm, Coralstown/Kinnegad, Westmeath, (S McNulty)

Tipperary began their Division 2 campaign by scalping Armagh on their travels but the Premier County know they’re in for a much stiffer test this time.

Armagh have improved incrementally throughout the campaign and will fancy their chances of an immediate return to Division 1.

Caroline O’Hanlon returns to midfield for the Orchard County following her exploits with Netball Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, while Aimee Mackin will hope to continue her rich vein of attacking form for Armagh.

This is a well-balanced Armagh outfit but Tipp claimed six wins out of seven outings in the group stages and adapted very well to life in the second tier, following last year’s promotion.

Aishling Moloney was the recent star of the Gourmet Food Parlour O’Connor Cup final for DCU and she was this week honoured with The Croke Park Hotel/LGFA Player of the month award for March.

She’s listed at full-forward, with Cahir team-mate and 2017 TG4 Intermediate Players’ Player of the Year Aisling McCarthy in the centre forward role.

This fixture has the ingredients to cook up a real cracker and the winners would fancy their chances of claiming promotion to the top tier.

Tipperary: L Fitzpatrick; S Condon, M Curley, E Buckley; B Condon, S Lambert, C Condon; J Grant, G O’Brien; L Dillon, A McCarthy, N Lonergan, O O’Dwyer, A Moloney, R Howard.

Armagh: C O’Hare; S Reel, C Morgan, S Marley; L McConville, R O’Reilly, M Tennyson; B Mackin, C O’Hanlon; A McCoy, A Mackin, C McCambridge; K Mallon, F McKenna, M McGuinness.

Lidl Ladies NFL Division 3 – Semi Finals (Result on the Day) 

Wexford v Kildare, 2.00pm, Stradbally GAA, Laois, (J Gallagher)

Former Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson guided the county’s ladies to the top of Division 3 following the group stages – and that form earned him the Lidl/Irish Daily Star Manager of the Month award for March.

Wexford were beaten Division 3 finalists last year, falling to Tipperary after a replay, and are determined to go one better this time.

But Kildare will take heart from the group meeting between the counties, when just a goal separated the sides.

And a gritty victory over Roscommon secured a semi-final place for the Lilywhites, who are finding their feet again after a difficult spell that followed TG4 All-Ireland intermediate glory in 2016.

Forwards like Róisín Byrne and Ellen Dowling have the ability to hurt any defence but Wexford have scoring power of their own, while former Kerry skipper Bernie Breen is at midfield.

Wexford: M.R. Kelly; S Murphy, M Byrne, S Harding Kenny; N Moore, N Mernagh, N Butler; R Murphy, B Breen; C Donnelly, F Rochford, K Kearney; C Foxe, A Murphy, C Murray.

Kildare: A Wosser; S Kendrick, A Horan, R Cribbin; L Scully, R Corrigan, C Sullivan; T Duggan, A Curley; N Sinnott, S O’Sullivan, G Clifford; R Byrne, E Dowling, M McKenna.

Meath v Down, 1.00pm, Inniskeen Grattans, Monaghan, (J Murphy)

The green shoots of recovery are visible in Meath, who were big scorers throughout the group stages of the competition.

Vikki Wall is a forward who wouldn’t be out of place in any inter-county team in the country and she’s another player who recently pocketed a Gourmet Food Parlour O’Connor Cup medal.

It’s also encouraging to see Down in the semi-finals but they’ll have to come up a notch or two to compete with the Royals.

When the counties met at the start of the campaign, Meath ran out 4-13 to 2-2 winners but that was a wake-up for Down.

Granted, six of their group points came from Longford and Leitrim concessions but Down still managed to secure good wins against Offaly, Roscommon and Kildare on the field of play, and they were competitive against table-toppers Wexford.

Meath: M McGuirk; K Newe, M Peel, S Powderly; E Troy, S Ennis, N Gallogly; M O’Shaughnessy, K Byrne; M Thynne, A Cleary, V Wall; N O’Sullivan, S Grimes, F O’Neill.

Down: A Burns; C Cunningham, O Boyle, L Morgan; C Laverty, R Torney, H Murray; D Doherty, C Mulvena; L Duffy, J Foy, A Keown; G McClean, K McKay, N Ferris.

Lidl Ladies NFL Division 4 – Semi Finals (Result on the Day) 

Wicklow v Antrim, 3.00pm, Inniskeen Grattans, Monaghan, (D Carolan)

Wicklow, who were beaten Division 4 finalists last year, steamed into the semi-finals again by claiming maximum points in the group stages.

Under the astute guidance of Mick O’Rourke, the Lidl/Irish Daily Star manager of the month for February, the Garden County want to go one step better and make the step up to Division 3, which, on all known form, they would be comfortable with.

Their semi-final opponents are Antrim, who progressed to the knock-out stages without kicking a ball when Derry conceded the final group game.

Antrim needed a win to edge out Fermanagh in fourth place and the three points ensured that they made it on the head-to-head rule.

Antrim will now aim to prove that they deserve their semi-final spot but Wicklow won the group game between the sides by 3-16 to 1-3.

Wicklow: K Connors; E Mulhall, S.J. Winder, A Gillen; A Conroy, S Hogan, L Fusciardi; N McGettigan, A Gorman; G Canavan, J Kinch, A Murphy; L Hogan, K Miley, M Kealy.

Antrim: A McCann; C Stewart, N McIntosh, N McKeown; O McCrory, S Cochrane, A McFarland; D O’Kane, L McCann; A Devlin, C Carey, E Faloon; C Taggart, O Prenter, E Kelly.

Louth v Limerick, 2.00pm, McCann Park, Portarlington, Laois, (Y Duffy)

Limerick have made good progress under John Ryan, who’s a football stalwart in the county.

The Shannonsiders will feel they’re in bonus territory having made the semi-finals but they’re here on merit, with a number of good wins under their belts.

They racked up 4-23 against Kilkenny in an eye-catching result but Antrim, Derry and Fermanagh were other good wins for Limerick.

They’ll meet Louth, who ran out 2-6 to 0-7 winners when the counties met in round 5, and the Leinster outfit collected five victories from seven in the group phase.

The only blots on the Wee County’s copybook were defeats to Fermanagh and Wicklow and they do have that earlier victory over Limerick to call upon ahead of this repeat meeting.

Louth: G Boyle; E Singleton, R Kane, S McLoughlin; C Nolan, D Osborne, B McGrane; S Woods, R Carr; P Murray, S Byrne, A Russell; L Boyle, K Flood, M McArdle.

Limerick: K O’Dwyer; M O’Shea, C McGrath, J O’Malley; Á McGrath, N Ryan, K Geary; L Hanley, C Hickey; C Mee, M Kavanagh, C Ní Cheallaigh; K Reidy, C Davis, C Clancy.



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