All-Ireland women’s semi-final previews
Cork and Dublin both favourites ahead of Saturday’s double header at Dr Hyde Park
Cork v Donegal, 2.45pm, Dr Hyde Park, 2.45 (Live TG4)
The four provincial winners made it safely through to the semi-finals of the TG4 All-Ireland championship – and the scene is now set for two mouth-watering shoot-outs in Roscommon.
Cork and Donegal meet in a fixture that will revive memories of their classic NFL Division 1 final at Parnell Park last year.
Donegal will take heart from an impressive 4-11 to 2-3 victory over Cork in the group stages of this year’s league campaign but Cork were already through to the knockout stages by then.
From the outside looking in, Donegal appeared to have tailed off slightly following their impressive cruise to the Ulster championship.
They had to work hard to achieve qualifier victories over Kerry and Tipperary and were run to three points by Armagh in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Manager Maxi Curran is an astute character, however, and will aim for his team to peak for the business end of the campaign, as Donegal prepare for the county’s very first All-Ireland senior semi-final appearance.
Cork have been hugely impressive to date and have bagged 23 goals in just five championship outings, including six for Ciara O’Sullivan and five for teen sensation Saoirse Noonan, who’s made big impacts off the bench.
The quarter-final victory over Westmeath, when Cork scored 8-18, was a statement performance from the Rebelettes.
Skipper Karen Guthrie, who was carrying a knock, returns to the Donegal starting team after she came off the bench against Armagh.
Anna Maria McGlynn switches to wing back and Emer Gallagher drops to the bench in the only change in personnel.
Donegal’s Geradline McLaughlin is the current senior championship top scorer, with a running total of 4-34.
CORK: M O’Brien; E Meaney, R Phelan, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan, S Kelly, E Spillane; A Hutchings, H Looney; C O’Sullivan, L Coppinger, E Scally; Á O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, O Finn.
DONEGAL: L Gallagher; T Doherty, N McLaughlin, D Foley; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, AM McGlynn; K Herron, A McDonnell; K Guthrie, N Hegarty, SJ McDonald; G McLaughlin, Y Bonner, E Ward.
Dublin v Galway, Dr Hyde Park, 4.30pm (Live TG4)
Dublin’s fifth successive All-Ireland senior semi-final sees the Sky Blues and champions pitted with Galway, who they defeated at this stage of the competition in 2014.
That was Galway’s last semi-final appearance but the Tribeswomen have marched impressively into the last four in 2018.
They’re also the only team to have beaten Dublin in a competitive fixture this year, having claimed a group victory in Division 1 of the NFL.
Galway were also unlucky not to defeat the Dubs in the league semi-final, when Nicole Owens bagged a late goal to send Mick Bohan’s charges through to the final.
The scene is now set for what promises to be a cracking encounter at Dr Hyde Park, with a coveted final spot on September 16th on offer for the winners.
A victory for Dublin would put them in fifth straight final while a Galway win would see them earn a crack at the Brendan Martin Cup for the first time since 2005.
Dublin have named an unchanged team after sweeping past Kerry at the quarter-final stage, while Galway boss Stephen Glennon is forced into making one change.
Ailbhe Davoren suffered a serious knee injury against Mayo at the quarter-final stage and has been ruled out until 2019.
She’s replaced by Mairead Seoighe in the starting line-up, with Sarah Conneally switching from the inside line to partner Catriona Cormican at midfield.
Seoighe slots in at right corner forward as Galway aim to knock out the holders and progress to the final.
As the race to finish as the championship’s top scorer intensifies, Dublin have a couple of players in the race, but they’ll need to score heavily between now and the end of the season to overhaul Donegal’s Geraldine McLaughlin.
Dublin skipper Sinéad Aherne has 2-20 to date and is tied on that number by Noelle Healy, who has racked up 5-11 to date.
DUBLIN: C Trant; M Byrne, D Murphy, L Caffrey; S Goldrick, S McGrath, N Collins; L Magee, O Carey; C Rowe, N Healy, L Davey; S Aherne, N McEvoy, N Owens.
GALWAY: L Murphy; F Cooney, S Lynch, S Burke; E Flaherty, N Ward, C Cooney; C Cormican, S Conneally; O Divilly, T Leonard, L Ward; M Seoighe, R Leonard, L Coen.