herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Dubs and Mayo set to deliver Cavan Cracker

Jackies face real test in bid to reach Croke Park

Dublin’s Sinead Goldrick will be fired up for the game. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Dublin’s Sinead Goldrick will be fired up for the game. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Two testing quarter-finals. Perfect.

Maybe not quite what the managers had ordered, but it has worked out well.

Those respective quarter-finals in Pearse Park will have helped to chalk the cues, and now Breffni Park could well see a match full of drama.

It's Mayo's first time in the last four since 2009 - that's quite a gap for one of the leading counties in the sport.

They were last in the All-Ireland final in 2007. Frank Browne guided them there, and now he's back on the bridge.

He took a few years off doing other things, and managing other teams. Among them was the Longford hurlers, who he led to the Division 3B title and the Lory Meagher Cup.

Accomplished

He's a lover of the ash - he's from Wexford, after all.

Mayo have had a consistent season. They reached the Division 1 League final, and they collected the Connacht Championship.

In that game, accomplished centre half-back, Martha Carter, broke her finger. It didn't stop her lining out against Westmeath the last day.

Dublin beat Westmeath in the Leinster final, and lifted the Leinster chalice for the fifth year in succession.

They also have one of the best managers the sport has known, Gregory McGonigle.

Even on the days when the scoreboard is struggling to keep up, Greg demands that his players keep putting scores in.

Dublin will face one of the legends of the game in Cora Staunton - it's her 22nd successive season in the Mayo senior jersey - but Dublin's pre-match plans won't just focus on that celebrated player.

There's so much quality in the boots of Sarah Tierney, Fiona McHale, Aileen Gilroy and Sarah Rowe, too.

Mayo also possess a top goalie in Yvonne Byrne, so Dublin will have to be in sharp scoring form if they are to secure a ticket to face either Cork or Monaghan in the final.

The Jackies had three points to spare over Donegal in the quarter-final.

They created chances, bags of them, and they are likely to do so again.

They contain so much class and experience in attack - Niamh McEvoy, Sinead Aherne and Lyndsey Davey, in particular, can cause havoc.

They are solid in defence, with brilliant corner-backs in Olwen Carey and Leah Caffrey.

Centre half-back, Sinead Finnegan, brings such a sense of security to the pitch, and then there's the energy and conviction of Sinead Goldrick breaking for the border.

The hour should rumble along. Following the lessons of Longford, both teams will have the boots polished - and the gloves well ironed.

VERDICT: Dublin

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