Monday 18 December 2017

Dubs can benefit from experience of last year's final

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC Final, Cork v Dublin (Croke Park, tomorrow, 4.00pm, TG4)

Dublin manager Gregory McGonigle
Dublin manager Gregory McGonigle

In Munster, they are calling it 'The Drive for Five.' For the Dubs, two will do. Cork are seeking their fifth successive TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship title.

If they do so, they will equal their own five-in-a-row achievement of 2009.

They only won their first title in 2005. Victory tomorrow will bring them their tenth crown, one shy of Kerry, who top the leader-board on eleven, including nine titles on the trot from 1982 to 1990.

The Cork-Dublin game is the headline act of a treble treat. Scotland meet Louth in the All-Ireland Junior final (11.45, Live TG4), and the All-Ireland Intermediate final sees Kildare against Waterford (1.45, Live TG4).

Cork manager, Eamonn Ryan, has long had the freedom of Leeside.

It's the fourth All-Ireland final for Blues boss, Gregory McGonigle, who led Monaghan to two finals.

Last September, his Dublin side lost to Cork by a point. Cork also beat the Dubs by a point in the 2009 final.

The Jackies enter Croke Park with an unbeaten campaign. They accounted for Laois and Westmeath in Leinster before beating Monaghan in Clones and Armagh in Donnycarney.

Cork lost to Kerry in the Munster final. But when they next met in the All-Ireland semi-final, Cork won by 13 points.

This is their tenth Al-Ireland final in eleven years. Tyrone beat them in the 2010 quarter-final. Dublin then defeated Tyrone in the final to take gold for the first time.

Dublin have lost a cluster of last year's personnel. But they have been impressing just the same.

The goalkeeping gloves of Ciara Trant are proving a perfect fit. And the defence haven't been giving out the chocolate buttons.

Two of the youngest girls in the rearguard, Olwen Carey and Muireann Ni Scanaill, have been in terrific form.

There's plenty of energy and pace in the Dublin side, with players like Sinead Goldrick, Noelle Healy and Carla Rowe. Full-forward and captain, Lyndsey Davey, is having a wonderful year. Her industry sets the tempo.

Putting in the hard yards is a way of life for Cork. Remarkably, Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery are going for their 15th Al-Ireland Senior medals in football and camogie.

Cork possess a celebrated half-back line - Vera Foley, Deirdre O'Reilly and Geraldine O'Flynn. Left half-back, O'Flynn, led the comeback in the final last year. She scored three crucial points.

And Cork also contain fabulous forwards like Valerie Mulcahy, Doireann O'Sullivan and the skipper, Ciara O'Sullivan.

It's going to take a mighty road-block to stop 'The Drive for Five.' But if any team can do it, it's the Dubs, having gained the experience of last year.


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