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All-Ireland Ladies SFC final promises to be a thriller

All-Ireland Ladies SFC final promises to be a thriller

Fri, 14th September 2018

The scene is set for the 2018 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Finals – with a spectacular triple-bill in store at Croke Park on Sunday.

Louth and Limerick will battle it out for the Junior title, Meath face Tyrone for the Intermediate crown and Champions Dublin tackle Cork for the Senior silverware at GAA HQ.

Dublin are aiming to retain the Brendan Martin Cup for the very first time in the county’s history, following previous successes in 2010 and 2017.

Standing in their way are 11-time champions Cork, who are back in the Senior Final for the first time since 2016.

Cork and Dublin have met four times previously in Senior deciders, with the Leesiders emerging victorious on each occasion, including three successive Finals in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

2018 TG4 All-Ireland Senior Final; Cork v Dublin, Croke Park, 4.0

Judgement day has arrived for Cork and Dublin – and with a real sense of unfinished business surrounding this TG4 All-Ireland Senior Final.

Dublin have never beaten Cork in a senior decider – and suffered defeats at the hands of the Rebelettes in 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

But the Sky Blues are current holders and eager to set the record straight against their big-city rivals.

The chance presents itself at Croke Park on Sunday as Dublin, carrying 14 of the 2017 final starters, take on a Cork side with just seven starting survivors from the 2016 decider.

It’s a role reversal of sorts as Cork were the more established team in previous finals, with Dublin viewed as transitional and on the rise.

Now, it’s Dublin who are the dominant force while Cork have been shorn of a host of former All-Ireland medallists and legendary figures in recent years.

While both sides have been scoring heavily throughout the championship, recent history suggest that this could be another tight and tense encounter.

In their five outings, including the Leinster final, Dublin have amassed 20-66, or an average of 4-13 per game.

Of that combined tally, captain Sinéad Aherne has chipped in with 4-24 along the way.

In six matches, and taking the Munster championship into account, Cork have scored 25-80.

When averaged out, it’s roughly 4-13 per game, and very much in line with what Dublin have been registering.

Cork’s leading scorer is Orla Finn on 1-27, closely followed by a player who’s been coming off the bench to make a big impact.

Saoirse Noonan, the former minor star, made her senior debut against Kerry in the Munster final, scoring 2-2 in the second half alone, and she’s chipped in with an incredible 6-11 in total.

Skipper Ciara O’Sullivan has also contributed handsomely, landing 6-7 in the 2018 championship.

The defence that holds up best could well determine the outcome of this one, and both teams are well stocked in that regard with leading stars.

The respective goalkeepers, Dublin’s Ciara Trant and Cork’s Martina O’Brien, have also enjoyed excellent campaigns.

With another big crowd expected at Croke Park on Sunday (last year’s final attracted a record 46,286 attendance), the scene is set for a mouth-watering encounter.

Between them, these two counties have racked up the last 13 All-Ireland Senior Titles on offer – Cork winning 11 with Dublin victorious in 2010 and 2017.

But the win they really want in a final is Cork, and that sense of having to prove themselves against the Leesiders should ensure that a highly-motivated Dublin team storms onto the Croke Park sod.

Sparks should fly – and this 2018 TG4 All-Ireland Senior Final will be a game to savour.

CORK: M O’Brien; E Meaney, R Phelan, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan, S Kelly, E Spillane; A Hutchings, H Looney; C O’Sullivan (capt), L Coppinger, E Scally; Á O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, O Finn.

DUBLIN: C Trant; M Byrne, S Finnegan, L Caffrey; S Goldrick, S McGrath, N Collins; L Magee, O Carey; C Rowe, N Healy, L Davey; S Aherne (capt), N McEvoy, N Owens.

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