Ladies Football weekend previews  

By Jackie Cahill

ANOTHER crucial weekend of Lidl National League action could see Final placings confirmed in Divisions 1 and 3, depending on results, while a number of counties are fighting to avoid the drop.

In Division 2, there’s a final dress rehearsal on the cards as Tyrone and Kildare, who are already looking forward to Division 1 football next year, meet ahead of a second tier decider at Croke Park on Sunday April 7.

In the top flight, Dublin and Cork meet at DCU St Clare’s on Saturday a 4.30pm to get Round 6 of fixtures underway, with Tipperary at home to Monaghan in Division 2 earlier in the day.

All other games in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 are down for decision on Sunday.

2pm unless stated

Saturday March 16

Lidl NFL Division 2

Tipperary v Monaghan; Fethard Town Park 3G, 2pm
Monaghan have the greater need for points ahead of Saturday’s Division 2 tussle.

A victory for the Farney girls on their trip to Tipp would pile the pressure on the Premier County, Cavan and Westmeath, who are all sitting on six points, just two above the drop zone.

A win for Tipperary would ease any lingering relegation fears but Monaghan, on four points and second from bottom, would remain in serious danger of going down to Division 3 if results go against them this weekend.

Tipperary: L Fitzpatrick; Nora Martin, L Spillane, E Cronin; C O’Dwyer, M Curley (capt.), Niamh Martin; L Morrissey, A.R. Kennedy; C English, M Creedon, E McCarthy; E Morrissey, A McGuigan, A Moloney.

Monaghan: K Sherlock; E Clerkin, N Cogan, K Nolan; A Garland, C Nally, M Monaghan (capt.); J Duffy, Á Loughman; C McBride, É Sherry, C Treanor; L Garland, L Maguire, S Tierney.

Lidl NFL Division 1

Dublin v Cork; DCU St Clare’s, 4.30pm
This is a massive tie with potential consequences at both ends of the table.

Remarkably, Cork are rock bottom of the standings on scoring difference, and level on points with Galway and Waterford, who also have serious relegation worries on their minds.

Dublin, on nine points, are still in with a fighting chance of a Final place, sitting just a point behind second placed Kerry.

A win here and they will go into the final round of fixtures still in with a chance of making the Croke Park decider on April 7.

A repeat of the 2023 TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final between the Dublin and Cork will make for intriguing viewing.

Dublin have made eight changes following victory over Waterford, with Rachael Fleming replacing Abby Shiels between the sticks, while there are outfield starts for Jess Tobin, Hannah McGinnis, Kate Murray, Grace Kós, Kerri Owens, Caoimhe O’Connor and captain Carla Rowe.

Dropping out of the team along with Shiels are Niamh Crowley, Aoife Kane, Niamh Donlon, Ashling Nyhan, Kate Sullivan, Ellen Gribben and Annabelle Timothy.

The Dublin subs bench is notable for the inclusions of Nicole Owens and former skipper Sinéad Aherne.

This is a first appearance on a Dublin squad list for Owens since the 2022 TG4 All-Ireland SFC loss to Donegal, while Aherne makes her seasonal return to the panel.

The Cork team that lost to Mayo shows three changes in personnel, with Anna Ryan, Abbie O’Mahony and Hannah Looney replacing Laura O’Mahony, Kate Redmond and Daire Kiely in the starting line-up.

Dublin: R Fleming; L Caffrey, M Byrne, J Tobin; H McGinnis, O Carey, K Murray; G Kós, J Dunne; K Owens, O Nolan, C O’Connor; C Rowe (capt.), H Tyrrell, N Hetherton.

Cork: C Richmond; M Duggan, S Leahy, E Twomey; A Ryan, A Healy, K O’Driscoll; M O’Callaghan (capt.), A O’Mahony; A McDonagh, L Coppinger, E Cleary; A Ring, H Looney, L McDonagh.

Sunday March 17

Lidl NFL Division 1

Mayo v Armagh; Ballina Stephenites, 1pm
Armagh just need to avoid defeat to make the Division 1 Final at Croke Park on Sunday April 7.

Mayo, meanwhile, boosted their survival hopes with victory over Cork last time out and are currently on seven points, four clear of the relegation zone.

A win here would leave Armagh potentially sweating on their Final place and guarantee top flight football again in 2025 for the green and red.

But Armagh are the form team in the country and with five wins from five, they’ve made a seamless transition from second tier football to Division 1, having captured the Division 2 title last year.

If Armagh’s Lauren McConville starts, as selected, she’ll rack up her 100th outing in county colours since making her debut, without being injured or dropped.

March 17 is also a date that resonates with McConville as her father, Jim, captained Crossmaglen Rangers to their first All-Ireland Senior club title win on St Patrick’s Day in 1997.

Armagh are unchanged as they seek to wrap up a Final slot, while Mayo have made one change to the team that started the Cork win, with Fiona McHale replacing Tara Needham.

Mayo: L Brennan; F McHale, N O’Malley, S Lally (capt.); K Sullivan, E Murray, J Mortimer; A Geraghty, H Reape; F McLaughlin, A Fitzpatrick, M Cannon; S Cafferky, L Cafferky, S Walsh.

Armagh: A Carr; G Ferguson, C McCambridge (capt.), R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Druse, A McCoy, C Doyle; A Mackin, N Henderson, K Mallon.

Galway v Waterford; Pearse Stadium, 3pm
A huge relegation battle at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

Galway and Waterford are two of three teams, along with Cork, on three points ahead of the weekend.

A win for either side here would represent a massive boost in their respective quests to stay alive in Division 1.

Waterford lost out by three points against Dublin in their previous outing, as Galway finally claimed their first points of the season, and in style with victory over Meath.

As both sides target the precious points on offer, the respective management teams have given a nod to the starting 15s that were in action last time out.

The stakes are high and the consequences for the losers of Sunday’s game could be particularly stark.

Galway: D Gower; M Jordan, S Ní Loingsigh, E Gavin; K Geraghty, N Ward, A Ní Cheallaigh; M Glynn, A Davoren (capt.); O Divilly; S Hynes, M Walsh; L Coen, A O’Rourke, R Leonard.

Waterford: E O’Brien; H Power, E Power, A Murray; K McGrath, A McNulty, A O’Neill; E Murray, K Hogan (capt.); C Walsh, C Carroll, M O’Brien; B McMaugh, K Murray, L McGregor.

Meath v Kerry; Ashbourne, 3pm
This one is beautifully poised. Kerry, in second place on ten points, make the trip to Donaghmore/Ashbourne to take on hosts Meath, who are a point further back.

A victory for holders Kerry would see them inch closer to another Lidl NFL Division 1 Final, while a victory for Meath would boost their hopes significantly.

Kerry were flying in their opening three rounds but have dropped points in their last two games, drawing with Mayo before losing to Armagh.

Meath, too, have suffered wobbles in Rounds 4 and 5, with back-to-back defeats against Armagh and Galway but they’re still in the running for a Final place.

Hosts Meath bring in Katie Newe and Meadhbh Byrne for Shauna Ennis and Seona Lynch as they aim to get back to winning ways.

Kerry, too, will be looking for a much improved performance following the Armagh defeat and their starting team shows six changes in personnel.

Bríd O’Connor, Ciara Murphy, Ciara McCarthy, Danielle O’Leary, Lorraine Scanlon and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh all come into the Kingdom’s starting line-up, with Deirdre Kearney, Fay O’Donoghue, Cáit Lynch, Niamh Ní Chonchúir, Amy Harrington and Katie Brosnan held in reserve for this one.

The counties meet for the first time since the 2023 TG4 All-Ireland Senior championship quarter-final, when Kerry ended Meath’s reign as champions.

Meath: M McGuirk (capt.); K Newe, A Sheridan, N Troy; N Gallogly, M.K. Lynch, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, S Melia; M Thynne, E Moyles, C Smyth; M Byrne, M Farrelly, E Duggan.

Kerry: C Butler; B O’Connor, E Lynch, C Murphy; A O’Connell, K Cronin, C McCarthy; M O’Connell, A Galvin; N Carmody (capt.), D O’Leary, L Scanlon; H O’Donoghue, E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

Lidl NFL Division 2

Laois v Westmeath; Heywood Community School, Ballinakill, 1pm
It’s all or nothing for Laois as they prepare for the visit of Westmeath to Heywood Community School.

It’s must-win for the hosts or else they’ll be playing Division 3 football next year.

Laois are bottom of the table with just a single point to date, and five points clear of safety at the start of the weekend.

Westmeath will guarantee Division 2 football again next year if they can make their visit to Laois a winning one.

Laois: E Barry; S Farrelly, M Cotter, C Malone; S Delaney, C Dunne (capt.), G Lalor; A Moore, A Moran; A Walsh, O Hennessy, K Donoghue; M Nerney, G Moran, L Kearney.

Westmeath: L McCormack (capt.); L Kiernan, L Power, L McCartan; C Kelly, F Coyle, R Dillon; K Boyce Jordan, V Carr; A Ruane, R Higgins, C Clarke McMahon; S Dillon, L Slevin, T Dillon.

Tyrone v Kildare; Beragh
A dress rehearsal ahead of the Lidl National League Division 2 Final pits Tyrone against Kildare.

Both teams have already achieved promotion to the top flight next year and will face off against each other at Croke Park on Sunday April 7 for second tier silverware.

This has been a remarkable turnaround for Tyrone, who lost four of their Division 2 fixtures last year, while Kildare have achieved back-to-back promotions after winning the Division 3 title in 2023.

Tyrone: C Donnelly; J Lyons, J Barrett, E Quinn; C Campbell, E Mulgrew, A Strain; A McHugh (capt.), M Mallon; E.J. Gervin, M Canavan, C McCallion; E Conroy, Z Loughran, A Horisk.

Kildare: A Dunlea; F Troute, M Doherty, A Clifford; L Gilbert, R Sargent, E O’Toole; G Clifford (capt.), C Sullivan; A Rattigan, E Dowling, T Duggan; N Dooley, R Byrne, H McLoughlin.

Cavan v Donegal; Max McGrath Memorial Park Redhills
Donegal can’t make the Final now but they’ll be looking to finish their Division 2 campaign with a flourish.

Cavan are not out of the woods yet as they aim to preserve Division 2 status again for next season – but a win here would ease any lingering fears.

Cavan are currently on six points, one behind Donegal and two clear of the drop zone at the start of play.

Cavan: E Baugh; Áine Brady (Ballyhaise), Áine Brady (Cornafean – capt.), C Brady; C Charters, R Dolan, L Crowe; A Cahill, C Halpin; Z Fay, S McCabe, D McCaffrey; S Levingstone, R McLoughlin, E Longair.

Donegal: C Friel; S McLaughlin, A Temple Asokuh, E McGinley; C Keon, K Dowds, T Hegarty; R Rodgers, N Boyle; J McFadden, N McLaughlin (capt.), K Long; S White, K Herron, A Boyle Carr.

Lidl NFL Division 3

Wexford v Sligo; St Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy, 12pm
It’s all on the line for Sligo as they make the visit to St Patrick’s Park in Enniscorthy.

If the Yeats County don’t win here, they’ll be playing Division 4 football next season.

Sligo are currently bottom of Division 3, two points behind Antrim, who occupy the other relegation place currently.

Wexford need to finish with two wins to maintain their remote hopes of a Final place and promotion – and even that’s unlikely to be enough.

Wexford: S McCarthy; L Doyle, M Byrne, K English; A Power, R Murphy (capt.), S Harding Kenny; A Halligan, C Donnelly; R Hughes, C Murray, A Cullen; C Ni Nuallain, T Doyle, C Foxe.

Sligo: E McGuire; J Creegan, E McDermott, C Dunne (capt.); C King, A Morrisroe, T Breheny; E Lavin, S Regan; C Gilligan, R O’Brien, M McCormack; R Smith, N Brennan, L Duffy.

Clare v Antrim; St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield 12.30pm
Clare have their promotion destiny in their own hands as they prepare to welcome relegation-haunted Antrim to St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield.

A win for the home side will see them play Division 2 football next year and ensure a Final in Birr on Saturday April 6.

An Antrim defeat, coupled with a Louth victory, would see the Saffrons relegated back to Division 4 for 2025.

Clare: A Lenihan; R Doohan, S Ní Chonaill, A Keane; R Considine, J Doohan, L Ryan; C Harvey (capt.), S Considine; T Collins, A Reidy, A Sexton; K Mullen, A Considine, F Marrinan.

Antrim: S Murphy; G McGroarty, E Ferran, N McArdle; C McKenna, C Brown (capt.), H Donaghy; A Mulholland, L Dahunsi; C Taggart, T Mellon, C Logan; B Ni Cahail, E Rogers-Duffy, A Taggart.

Down v Louth; Burren
Down are still in the promotion hunt but they’re relying on favours elsewhere now.

The Mourne County sit in third place, four points behind pace-setters Clare and Roscommon, who will be hoping to wrap up promotion this weekend.

Down can only look after their own business and keep an eye on results from the Clare and Roscommon games, while Louth need points themselves to steer clear of relegation trouble.

The Wee County sit third from bottom, a point clear of Antrim and three ahead of Sligo.

Down: A McGivern; A Greene, O Boyle, C Byrne; N McKibbin, M Doherty (capt.), O Duffy; C Mulvenna, A Laverty; N Scullion, N King, L Duffy; N McClory, N Ferris, V McCormack.

Louth: R Lambe Fagan; K Mathews, C Boyle, S Mathews; A Russell, A Whyte, C McDonald; A Halligan, A Breen (capt.); C Keenan, N Rice, E Byrne; M Duffy, L White, K Flood.

Roscommon v Offaly; St Aidan’s GAA, Ballyforan
Roscommon will wrap up promotion and book a Division 3 Final place in Birr on April 6 if they win here.

A victory for Offaly, meanwhile, could keep alive their very slim promotion hopes.

Roscommon are top on 13 points alongside Clare, while Offaly start the weekend on seven points, six off the pace-setters.

Roscommon: H Cummins; A McGrath, E Irwin (capt.), A MacAuliffe; R Fitzmaurice, S Wynne, C Cregg; L O’Rourke, K Nolan; L Fleming, L Shanagher, S Farrell, A Hanly, A Shanagher, J McDermott.

Offaly: K Cunningham; A Grehan, M Mann, K Farrelly; N Buckley, E Maher, N Farrelly; A Gavin Mangan, E McEvoy (capt.); F Dempsey, C Sheridan, C Walsh; A Hackett, M Byrne, R Cockram.


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