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Fourth time lucky

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies sfc Final

Dublin v Tyrone

(Croke Park, tomorrow, 4.0, live on TG4)

THERE will be a blue river flowing towards the big theatre tomorrow.

The Jackies are back in town. Maybe it will be fourth time lucky. Tyrone's first final. A young, talented side with a potent forward division.

Dublin will know the surroundings better. That could be worth a couple of points in the purse. But All-Ireland finals don't come with any guarantees. They take on a life of their own.

In 2003, the Dubs were pipped on the line by Mayo. Mick Bohan was in charge.

John O'Leary led the team back the following year. Galway's second-half display saw them prevail. Only a point in it last year, but that's the final Dublin will take the most from.

They went into it without a prayer. After all, Cork were the invincibles. The Rebels probably would have even beaten the Harlem Globetrotters. Dublin earned much praise for their display. As Gerry McGill noted last week, it gave other counties hope.

It was Tyrone who finally ended their six-in-a-row quest. At half-time in that quarter-final, it looked like the Leesiders were cruising.

Tyrone responded. Cork had two in the Sin Bin. The Red Hands put two late ones in the trolley, and the result echoed into every parish in the land. Cork were out.

Then came two cracking semi-finals against Kerry. Tyrone should have won the first day.

Some said Kerry could have won the second, but Tyrone took it by a point.

Dublin were looking on. They had booked their seat in the choir on the last Saturday in August.

It was their hardest match of the season. They defeated Laois by two points.

Deep in the second half, it appeared as if Laois were going to prevail. The Midland cheers began to rise in Dr Cullen Park.

But Dublin stormed back. They kept playing their football, probing to find an open window. Eventually, the chances came. Sinead Aherne took them and the Leinster queens were through.

That victory, and the earlier one against Clare in the quarter-final, underlined the new maturity of the Dubs.

There's plenty of experience in the side. And three 2009 All-Stars as well -- goalkeeper Cliodhna O'Connor, half-back Siobhan McGrath and the artful Aherne, one of the best forwards in the country.

Many of the Dubs have been on the road a long time. But the freshness is still there.

Striving to win the elusive All-Ireland is what maintains that hunger. Dublin will be as keen as the new girls in class when the bell goes.

If Tyrone can settle into their work, they will cause problems. They possess electric pace and some gifted footballers.

One of the best is the centre half-forward, Gemma Begley, who is so often the heartbeat of the team.

Begley is a difficult player to curb. She has wonderful vision and she's a silky stylist who can open doors all over the building.

Joline Donnelly is another brilliant footballer. Tyrone have others in Sarah Connolly, Aisling O'Kane and Cathy Donnelly.

Dublin will seek to make their own mark as early as possible. And when the time is right, they can attack from all over the house.

The two half-backs, Gemma Fay and McGrath, can begin moments of promise with their darting runs.

Lindsey Peat is another powerful athlete. She caused all kinds of bother to Laois in the All-Ireland semi-final. If she wasn't setting up colleagues following a surging burst, she was winning priceless frees.

Peat's basketball skills make her a handful, and when she ventures forward, it's the Dublin captain, Denise Masterson, who minds the shop.

Denise is one of the most intelligent footballers in the country. She is never far from the pitch of the ball around the centre of the field and she rarely loses possession.

She keeps it tidy and simple. Little neat passes to start the train again. An inspirational skipper in her own quiet way. The guile of the elegant Niamh McEvoy will also be telling.



CREATING

As always, it will all come down to creating the chances and then taking them. Dublin have several players who can find the pockets. Aherne has gold dust on the boots. She's Dublin's Phil 'The Power' Taylor. Lyndsey Davey is also an accomplished finisher, while the right boot of Amy McGuinness has been buttering the bread rolls all year.

But it's the toil at the other end of the stage that, ultimately, could lead to success. If Dublin can keep the back door bolted, they have every chance.

One of the county's most noble campaigners, Maria 'Bangers' Kavanagh, has been restored to Dublin's rearguard. She'll bring huge experience to the job.

It will be a match that will create history. Dublin's journey towards the Holy Grail has been a long one.

Sentiment and the favourites tag might be with them, but as they were saying about the Cork lads last week, such thoughts don't mean a jot -- All-Irelands have to be earned.

With Cork not being present, there's a novel look about Ladies Day. The three-game spectacular begins at noon with the Junior final between Louth and Limerick. Then at 2pm it's the Intermediate final involving Donegal and Waterford.

The Dubs and Tyrone will then conclude the business. It could well be a happy hour.

Hopefully, the crowds will fill the seats. Dublin will fill their lungs for one more try at Everest. It's the little steps that count. And during this decade, they have walked a million miles to get their hands on the Brendan Martin Cup.

Dublin: Cliodhna O'Connor (Naomh Mearnóg); Rachel Ruddy (Ballyboden St Enda's), Avril Cluxton (Parnell's), Maria Kavanagh (Round Towers Clondalkin); Siobhan McGrath (Thomas Davis), Sorcha Furlong (St Brigid's), Gemma Fay (Ballyboden St Enda's); Denise Masterson (Naomh Mearnóg), Niamh McEvoy (Parnell's); Mary Nevin (Na Fianna), Amy McGuinness (Fingallians), Lyndsey Peat (Parnell's); Lyndsey Davey (Skerries Harps), Sinead Aherne (St Sylvester's), Elaine Kelly (St Brigid's).


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