Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, Saturday, 3.45pm – Live on TG4
It all started for Dublin against Mayo and the Sky Blues will hope that the journey continues in Saturday’s TG4 All-Ireland women’s football semi-final.
In what was then a record 46,286 attendance for an All-Ireland women’s decider in 2017, Dublin got the better of Mayo to record just their second senior title win, and first since 2010.
It was a victory that helped to erase the memories and hurt of three successive final defeats to Cork from 2014-2016 and it was the launchpad for a period of sustained dominance.
Dublin have been untouchable in senior championship football since then and victory would propel them into an eighth successive final.
Under the guidance of Mick Bohan, Dublin are chasing a fifth successive title but they'll receive a stern examination from a Mayo side under the stewardship of former county star Michael Moyles.
Mayo will need a reversal of recent fortunes against Dublin if they’re to make it through to a first All-Ireland final since 2017.
It’s the first championship meeting between Dublin and Mayo since 2018, a game won by Dublin and their most recent clash was a 2021 Lidl National League Division 1 semi-final, when Dublin prevailed by 4-15 to 0-10.
Dublin went on to win the competition and have shown good form to date in the championship.
Comfortable victories over Tyrone and Waterford in the group stages saw Dublin through to the knock-out phase, and they recovered from a slow start to defeat Donegal by five points.
Carla Rowe, who has emerged as a totemic leader up front for Dublin, was superb in that game, while Hannah Tyrrell's return from rugby has provided Bohan with another brilliant option in attack.
Tyrrell made a sensational impact in the league and has carried that form into the championship as she’s Dublin’s current leading scorer with 0-14.
It’ll take something special from Mayo to derail this Dublin juggernaut but confidence is high in their camp following a four-point quarter-final victory over Connacht rivals Galway.
That win followed victories over Cavan and Monaghan in the group stages, the latter in a dramatic free-taking shoot-out.
Mayo slipped up against Armagh in round three but had already secured a safe passage to the quarter-finals by then.
Moyles will look to the scoring power of Shauna Howley (0-20 to date), Rachel Kearns (1-11) and Grace Kelly (0-12) if Mayo are to cause what would be a big upset.
DUBLIN: C Trant; M Byrne, N Collins, L Caffrey; O Carey, S McGrath, O Nolan; J Dunne, L Magee; H Tyrrell, L Davey, C Rowe; S Killeen, N McEvoy, S Aherne (capt.).
MAYO: L Brennan; S Lally, D Finn, C McManamon (capt.); T O'Connor, C Whyte, K Sullivan; F McHale, S Cafferky; N Kelly, R Kearns, L Cafferky; G Kelly, S Howley, S Rowe.
Cork v Meath, Croke Park, 3.30pm – Live TG4
When you consider where both counties are now, it’s remarkable to think that Cork demolished Meath by 40 points in the 2015 championship.
Monica McGuirk was in goal for Meath in Thurles six years ago, current captain Shauna Ennis played at corner back and Vikki Wall was in the full-forward line.
Kate Byrne, Megan Thynne and Sarah Powderly are other panel members involved with Meath this year who also started that day.
Fast forward to 2021 and Meath have already shown that they present a real threat to Cork.
It’s just over five weeks since Cork and Meath met previously in the championship. On that occasion, Meath ran Cork all the way, losing out by just two points in a group two opener in Birr.
The Meath story in 2021 is quite remarkable. Having won the 2020 All-Ireland Intermediate title, following two previous final defeats, the Royal County’s progress since then has been meteoric.
They captured the Division Two title in June with a blistering performance against Kerry at Croke Park, to gain promotion to the top flight for 2022.
Not content with that, Meath bounced back from that Cork loss to comfortably beat Tipperary and book a slot in the knock-out stages of the championship.
Against Armagh in the quarter-finals, Meath were brilliant, ending the hopes of a side that had contested a semi-final in 2020, and looked arguably better this year.
But Meath possess genuine matchwinners in the likes of Vikki Wall, the 2020 intermediate players' player of the year, Emma Duggan, Stacey Grimes and Niamh O'Sullivan.
Cork may start as favourites but they’ll have their work cut out. Orla Finn is a huge loss through injury but the Leesiders still possess power, pace, style and experience in abundance.
Cork have been far from their best to date but perhaps they’re building up a head of steam at just the right time.
Eimear Scally’s return to the fold this year was a fillip for Cork and she’s their leading championship scorer with 2-11.
CORK: M O'Brien (capt); M Ambrose, R Phelan, E Meaney; E O'Shea, M Cahalane, M Duggan; A Hutchings, H Looney; L O'Mahony, C O'Sullivan, Á O'Sullivan; S O'Leary, K Quirke, M Scally.
MEATH: M McGuirk; E Troy, MK Lynch, K Newe; A Leahy, A Cleary, S Ennis (capt); O Lally, M O'Shaughnessy; O Byrne, S Grimes, N O'Sullivan; V Wall, E Duggan, B Lynch.