Tuesday 23 January 2018

All-Ireland final previews

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley




Tyrone v Dublin, 4.0, Croke Park,

K Delahunty. *Live TG4

Tyrone's amazing eight-game back-door odyssey to their first senior final -- including the dethroning of Cork's five in-a-row champions -- has produced a very new look to this year's premier final.

But there is no novelty in it for Dublin, who have lost three finals this decade, including last year's soul destroying one-pointer to Cork.

The Ulster girls include the three Donnelly sisters (Cathy, Joline and Maria), while Lynda is their cousin and also the sister of Dara, who won a minor medal last week.

Brilliant midfielder Shannon Quinn is Paudge's daughter, while centre-back Neamh Woods (also a netball international) is a daughter of the GAA's CCCC chairman, Seamus.

Tyrone's long campaign gives them serious momentum and, apart from forward stars like Gemma Begley and Cathy and Joline Donnelly, they are excellent in the central diamond and have a super full-back in the experienced Maura Kelly (who is Ryan McMenamin's fiancée).

Dublin looked great in the Leinster final, but then struggled to beat Laois again in the All-Ireland semi-final and it's fair to say that we haven't seen the best of them yet.

Avril Cluxton is noticeably named at full-back and Niamh McEvoy comes back from injury to start in midfield.

Basketball international Lyndsey Peat, Lyndsey Davey, Mary Nevin and Sinead Aherne lead their attack. Aherne's tussle with Kelly should be fascinating, but it's their defence, strengthened by Gemma Fay's return this year, that will be most severely tested.

Tyrone aren't afraid of anything and showed against Kerry their ability to dig themselves out of a hole mid-game.

A sin-binning on either side could swing it and it will be a massive test of Dublin's composure, but their experience may just nick it.

Verdict: Dublin.

TYRONE -- S Lynch; E Teague, M Kelly, S McLaughlin (Capt); M Donnelly, N Woods, L Donnelly; S Donnelly, S Quinn; C Donnelly, G Begley, A O'Kane; C McGahan, S Connolly, J Donnelly.

DUBLIN -- C O'Connor; R Ruddy, A Cluxton, M Kavanagh; S McGrath, S Furlong, G Fay; D Masterson (Capt), N McEvoy; M Nevin, A McGuinness, L Peat; L Davey, S Aherne, E Kelly.



Waterford v Donegal, 2.0, Croke Park,

D McEnery. *Live TG4

Michael Ryan, whose daughters Michelle, Louise and Sinead, star for Waterford will unfortunately miss this and the senior final (he's a Dublin senior selector) due to a clash with a De La Salle, whom he also manages, hurling championship match .

The Ryan girls have played a key role in leading this new wave of Decies women. They lost this year's Division 3 final to Cavan but beat the Breffni in the All-Ireland semi-finals and they've racked up 18 goals this summer.

This is a second wave of Donegal players too.

Just a few, like Diane Toner and Aoife McDonnell, remain from the team who contested two junior finals and won one in 2003 and played senior football until recently.

But Donegal have contested the last two All-Ireland minor finals (won it last year) and beat Kildare in this year's Division 2 final.

And though they've lost full-back Aoife Devenney (Brendan's sister) to injury, they should have the experience to prevail.

Verdict: Donegal.

WATERFORD -- A Jordan; N Dunphy, G Enright, L Hogan; L Ryan, M Foley (Capt), M Wall; M McGrath, E Power; G Keneally, M Ryan, L Wall; M Delahunty, S Ryan, A Wall.

DONEGAL -- R McClafferty; D Toner, O McCafferty, K Wilson; C Hegarty, M Herron, T McCafferty; A McDonnell (Capt), K Guthrie; G Houston, N Hegarty, K Feeney; E Ward, Y McMonigle, G McLaughlin.



Louth v Limerick, 12.0, Croke Park,

J Niland. *Live TG4

Limerick reached their first final last year and lost to Antrim and in Dymphna O'Brien, an All Star in 2007, they've a real gem who has already scored 70 championship points this season.

Full-back Sandra Healy is another star and they looked untouchable until Wexford gave them a fright last time out, though they still ran out seven-point winners.

Louth would dearly love to make up for the travesty their men suffered this year and are back in their first final since winning it 12 years ago.

Centre-forward Karen Flood is their big star, so the Limerick half-backs will have their hands full. However, their greater experience should see them through.

Verdict: Limerick.

LOUTH -- C Breen; A McGee, S Quinn, G Lynch (Capt); P Marmion, AM Lynch, S McDonald; O Kirk, R Heeney; S Byrne, K Flood, S Lynch; M Reid, AM Murphy, C Page.

LIMERICK -- C Murphy; M O'Brien, S Healy, A Neary; E McGuire, Y Moynihan, P Donnelly; E Enright, S Larkin (Capt); J Garvey, M Flanagan, C Reidy; J O'Gorman, D O'Brien, MC Curtin.


Cliona Foley

Irish Independent

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