NFL Division 1 Semi Final – ET if Necessary
SF2: Cork v Dublin, 3.30pm, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, (N McCormack)
There are fewer teams that know each other better than Cork and Dublin who have locked horns regularly in the League and Championship in recent years. They renew their rivalry this weekend in the Lidl Division 1 National Football League semi final where a cracking contest is expected in Nowlan Park.
Cork, under Ephie Fitzgerald, have continued to introduce new names into the panel and this weekend several of those players are being given a chance to impress in knock out football. Emma Spillane, Melissa Duggan and Niamh Cotter are amongst the new names with players like Jess O’Shea and Bríd O’Sullivan being given a chance to stake a claim for a more regular starting spot having been on the periphery in recent years. Bríd Stack makes her return to the starting line up as she lines out at centre half back and she is joined by fellow multi All Ireland winner Annie Walsh who also makes her return. What looks most impressive about Cork is their list of substitutes including Orlagh Farmer, Doireann O’Sullivan, Ashling Hutchings, Rhona Ní Bhuachalla and Grace Kearney amongst others.
Saturday presents another opportunity for Dublin to finally get the victory that they have chased for so long against their great rivals. Dublin have flattered to deceive throughout the League but they find themselves in a semi final with an opportunity to set out their stall for the rest of the season. Noelle Healy has reverted back to her more familiar role at centre forward from where she will spearhead the attack and it does look like a particularly potent attacking unit. The inside forward line of Sinead Aherne, Niamh McEvoy and Siobhan Woods are more than capable of running up a match winning score. Much like Cork there are some real game changers on the Dublin bench as Lyndsey Davey, Nicole Owens and Sarah McCaffrey are all being held in reserve whilst long term injury victim, Sinead Goldrick, returns to take her place as a substitute.
Dublin will be determined to get the victory that they so desperately want after so many close calls against Cork but, as always, the Rebellettes will be confident of victory and with their extra strength in depth they will feel like they can answer the questions that Dublin will inevitably ask.
Dublin: 1. Ciara Trant (St Brigid’s), 2. Fiona Hudson (Fingallians), 3. Sinead Finnegan (Fingallians), 4. Sinead O’Mahony (Skerries Harps), 5. Martha Byrne (Cuala), 6. Olwen Carey (Thomas Davis), 7. Leah Caffrey (Na Fianna),8. Lauren Magee (Kilmacud Crokes), 9. Niamh Collins (Foxrock Cabinteely), 10. Rebecca McDonnell (Clanna Gael Fontenoy), 11. Noelle Healy (St Brigid’s), 12. Carla Rowe (Clann Mhuire), 13. Sinead Aherne (St. Sylvester’s), 14. Niamh McEvoy (St. Sylvester’s), 15. Siobhan Woods (Raheny).
Cork: 1. Martina O’Brien (Clonakilty), 2. Marie Ambrose (St. Val’s), 3. Roisín Phelan (Aghada), 4. Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues), 5. Melissa Duggan (Doheny’s), 6. Bríd Stack (St. Mary’s),7. Shauna Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Buí), 8. Niamh Cotter (Beara), 9. Jess O’Shea (Inch Rovers), 10. Libby Coppinger (St. Colum’s), 11. Bríd O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), 12. Annie Walsh (Inch Rovers), 13. Eimear Scally (Éire Óg), 14. Ciara O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey), 15. Orla Finn (Kinsale)