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Battle of the champions! Dublin and Cork name strong sides for historic double-header

The reigning Division 1 holders will take on the All-Ireland champions in a double-header at Croke Park this weekend.

Ciara O'Sullivan and Noelle Healy Doireann O'Sullivan in possession during the 2016 All-Ireland final, with Noelle Healy bearing down on her. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS Dublin and Division 1 holders Cork have both named strong teams for their historic Lidl National League match in Croke Park [Throw-in 5pm, eir Sport 1].

The Saturday clash will be the first of three Ladies National League games to be televised on eir Sport this year, as well as being a curtain-raiser for the meeting of Jim Gavin’s Dublin and Donegal, in the Allianz football league.

The occasion also marks the first time that Cork will play a league match in Croke Park.

These teams have developed an intriguing rivalry in recent years, having contested the 2014, 2015 and 2016 All-Ireland senior finals. Cork were victorious in all three finals, while Dublin triumphed against Mayo in last year’s decider.

Dublin manager Mick Bohan has selected an impressive and experienced starting team, which features 11 players from last year’s All-Ireland winning side.

Martha Byrne, Leah Caffrey, Niamh Collins and Sinéad Goldrick will form a key part of the Dublin defence, while Lauren Magee and Olwen Carey team up in midfield.

Their attack is loaded with scoring threats, including Carla Rowe, Lyndsey Davey, Sinéad Aherne (captain) and Noelle Healy.

Cork have also elected to go with strength and experience.

Seasoned players including Orla Finn, Orlagh Farmer and Doireann O’Sullivan all provide reliable scoring outlets in the forward line, while Marie Ambrose is a commanding force at full-back.

Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Josephine Fitzpatrick Kerry will be reliant on the scoring power of Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Three other Division 1 ties will take place on Sunday, with Monaghan facing Kerry, Westmeath are set to host Donegal, and Galway will face provincial rivals Mayo.

The Courtney and McAnespie sisters will provide leadership and experience for Monaghan, while Kerry be looking to their regular scoring threats in Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and team captain Sarah Houlihan.

An unbeaten Galway side face Connacht neighbours Mayo, who will be seeking to restore themselves after losing out to Kerry last weekend.

The Ward twin-sisters of Nicola and Louise will be among the key performers for Galway, along with defender Sinéad Burke and team captain Tracey Leonard, who takes up the full-forward position.

Seasoned campaigners Fiona McHale, Aileen Gilroy and Sarah Tierney are all in the starting team for Mayo.

In the clash between Westmeath and Donegal, the Leinster side have retained some of their more experienced players who lined out in the second-round clash against Dublin, with Fiona Claffey, Laura Walsh and Maud Annie Foley all named to start.

Aoife McDonnell, Emer Gallagher and the Hegarty sisters (Ciara and Niamh) are among the familiar faces in the Donegal starting team.

 

Dublin:

1. Ciara Trant (St Brigid’s)

2. Martha Byrne (Cuala)
3. Katie Murray (Clontarf)
4. Leah Caffrey (Na Fianna)

5. Sinéad Goldrick (Foxrock Cabinteely)
6. Niamh Collins (Foxrock Cabinteely)
7. Muireann Ni Scanaill (Fingallians)

8. Lauren Magee (Kilmacud Crokes)
9. Olwen Carey (Thomas Davis)

10. Carla Rowe (Clann Mhuire)
11. Lyndsey Davey (Skerries Harps)
12. Eabha Rutledge (Kilmacud Crokes)

13. Sinéad Aherne (captain) St Sylvesters
14. Noelle Healy (St Brigid’s)
15. Oonagh Whyte (Clann Mhuire)

Cork

1. Martina O’Brien (Clonakilty)

2. Aisling Kelleher (St. Valentine’s)
3. Marie Ambrose (St. Valentine’s)
4. Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues)

5. Maire O’Callaghan (Mourneabbey)
6. Beatrice Casey (Araglen Desmonds Bui)
7. Shauna Kelly (Araglen Desmonds Bui)

8. Melissa Duggan (Dohenys)
9. Aishling Hutchings (Fermoy)

10. Bríd O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey)
11. Doireann O’Sullivan (Mourneabbey)
12. Orlagh Farmer (Midleton)

13. Áine O’Sullivan (Beara)
14. Eimear Scally (Éire Óg)
15. Orla Finn (Kinsale)

Round 3 Division 1 Lidl Ladies NFL — 10 February

Dublin v Cork — Croke Park, 5pm

Round 3 Division 1 Lidl Ladies NFL — 11 February

Monaghan v Kerry — Inniskeen, 12pm

Galway v Mayo — Pearse Stadium, 12pm

Westmeath v Donegal — Kinnegad, 2pm

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