While this weekend’s league finals are not as coveted as Championship cups to many competitive teams, there is still a lot to be said for their consequence in terms of division security and preliminary performance showings.
The finalists know this all too well and will be no doubt be expediting for victory in order to carry momentum into the remainder of their campaigns’ this summer.
A repeat of last year’s Brendan Martin cup between Cork and Dublin is the headliner tomorrow (Saturday June 26th) while Kerry versus Meath also gets underway in the division two decider.
Sunday (June 27th) sees Laois Vs Kildare feature in division three and the division four title is up for grabs in the battle between Leitrim and Louth.
This article will focus on the Divison 1 and 2 codes with the remaining match previews available tomorrow.
Lidl NFL Division 1 Final – Cork v Dublin, 7.30pm
Gracing this very fixture for the 15th time since 2004, Ephie Fitzgerald’s ladies are no strangers to league finals, or their Sky-Blue opponents for that matter.
As the latest victors (since there was no such competition in 2020 due to Coronavirus restrictions) Cork have triumphed here in six of the last seven years, Dublin the outlier in 2018 following their win over Mayo that characterised their first NFL title.
Striking however and perhaps notable when it comes to tomorrow’s game is that despite their league misgivings, this summer the Dubs will be gunning for their fifth consecutive All Ireland and therefore it remains to be seen where this tournament ranks in their consciousness this year.
The capital blitzed The Maritime County in the semis at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick at the start of the month to earn their place tomorrow, while Cork’s plethora of goals saw Donegal succumb to their abilities on a scoreline of 5-10 to 3-13 at Tuam Stadium.
LGFA player of the month Hannah Tyrrell is the division’s top scorer this year and is certainly one to keep an eye on, as is inaugural GPA women’s player of the month Ciara O’Sullivan who netted 1-3 in the double of this match earlier this year that saw Dublin run away one point to the good with the bragging rights.
Speaking to The Big Red Bench with Ger McCarthy Cork All-star Melissa Duggan talked of how that last outing saw both sides take the “shackles” off and just go for the result.
“The game flowed so well and it was a really hard league game because there was no stop on the ball” she said.
“I suppose the last 10 minutes probably stood out to me the most because we were really going at them and I think if we bring that level of intensity that we finished the game off with it will be great going into the match on Saturday.”
“In Croke Park on a Saturday evening sure where else would you want to be!”
Always an attacking and blisteringly fast affair any displays between these pair are not to be missed and while some will be lucky enough to witness the event in person in Croke Park at the test event for spectators, the game will also be available live on TG4 with throw in at 7.30pm.
Cork (v Dublin): M O’Brien (capt.); S Kelly, R Phelan, E Meaney; E O’Shea, A Hutchings, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan, H Looney; E Spillane, B O’Sullivan, O Finn; S O’Leary, C O’Sullivan, L Coppinger.
Dublin (v Cork): A Sheils; M Byrne, N Collins, H Leahy; L Caffrey, O Carey, L Magee; S McGrath, J Dunne; H Tyrrell, L Davey, S Killeen; S Aherne (capt.), N Hetherton, C O’Connor.
Lidl NFL Division 2 Final – Kerry v Meath, 5pm
The first throw in of the day at 5pm observes last year’s intermediate finalists (and eventual winners) Meath in action against Kerry with both silverware and promotion on offer for the champion.
In their first meeting this year the duo gave viewers a fascinating game of football with the Kingdom emerging victorious by six points upon the final whistle.
Kerry, who were relegated from division one in 2018 found themselves back in the conversation after a tight semi-final against Monaghan in which the two sides were in deadlock at both normal and extra time and extraordinarily had to go to a shootout in order to decide who would progress. The 4-3 precarious win will surely provide them with the ammo they need to kick on now in the final.
Similarly Meath and Cavan were nip and tuck in their previous match up against Cavan until Emma Duggan pushed them onwards after halftime and saw the game concluded at 0-13 to 0-8 in their favour.
🏆Lidl NFL Div 2A semi final ⏱ full time Meath 0-13 Cavan 0-09 Meath are into the Lidl NFL Div 2 final. Excellent performance, particularly in the second half. Final details tbc.— MeathLadiesFootball (@meathladiesMLGF) June 12, 2021
Talking to LMFM during the week The Royal County forward Stacey Grimes said her side were looking towards the face off with excitement.
“We played Kerry a few weeks ago and they bet us or whatever but we’re really looking forward to going at them again now in Croke Park and righting some of those wrongs” she said.
“Kerry have been there up senior and they’re a very experienced team with strength all over the park.”
“They have good forwards and they are strong in defence so we have to match them and bring our strengths to try and get over the line.”
Kerry (v Meath): C Butler; J O’Sullivan, A Desmond (capt.), C Murphy; A O’Connell, K Cronin, C Lynch; L Scanlon, N Carmody; L Galvin, E Dineen, A Galvin; N Ní Chonchúir, H O’Donoghue, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Meath (v Kerry): M McGuirk; E Troy, M.K. Lynch, K Newe; A Leahy, A Cleary, O Byrne; V Wall, M O’Shaughnessy; S Ennis (capt.), S Grimes, N O’Sullivan, S Melia, E Duggan, B Lynch.