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5 players to watch out for as Meath aim to stop Dublin's Drive for Five

The sides will contest for the Brendan Martin cup this Sunday.

Meath's Emma Duggan and Hannah Tyrrell of Dublin will have a major influence on Sunday's game.
Meath's Emma Duggan and Hannah Tyrrell of Dublin will have a major influence on Sunday's game.

AN INTRIGUING LADIES football season reaches its conclusion this weekend, as Dublin aim to complete their five-in-a-row against Meath in the All-Ireland final.

pjimage (27) Meath's Emma Duggan and Hannah Tyrrell of Dublin will have a major influence on Sunday's game. Source: Inpho/Photojoiner

The Dubs are back in their eighth successive decider while Meath have stunned the ladies football community with their incredible surge to the final.

The Royals, who returned to the senior ranks this year after capturing the All-Ireland intermediate crown last year, suffered a 40-point thumping to Cork in 2015. Six years later, the sides met again, but this time it was Meath’s day as they edged out the Rebels after extra-time in the semi-final.

Both teams are loaded with match-winning talent. Below is just a selection of the key players you should look out for when the teams collide in Croke Park on Sunday [throw-in 4.15pm].

1. Vikki Wall

vikki-wall Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

One of the biggest headaches for Dublin heading into Sunday will be how they are going to nullify Vikki Wall.

A perfect balance of speed and power, Wall is capable of devastating defenders with ball in hand. She chalked up three points in their thrilling extra-time win over Cork in another effective display for the Royals.

Dublin have been hampered by injury concerns recently, including key man-markers Sinéad Goldrick and Niamh Collins, which compounds their worries about Wall’s potential influence.

Collins has been nursing groin issue while Goldrick, who has been battling back from a serious hamstring problem, has banked some vital game time after coming on at half-time in their semi-final win over Mayo.

Both players are named to start — though as we know, things could change — which gives Dublin more options to look through before deciding on who should marshal Wall on Sunday.

2. Hannah Tyrrell

clodagh-mcmanamon-and-hannah-tyrrell Hannah Tyrrell after defeating Mayo. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A sensational addition to the Dublin ranks this year, Hannah Tyrrell has made an effortless return to the Dublin jersey after retiring from international rugby.

Before 2021, her most recent involvement with the Dubs dates back to the 2014 league as sub goalkeeper. But the Na Fianna attacker has turned that seven-year gap into dust with her series of consistent displays for Dublin in both league and championship, scoring a sensational 3-48 in nine outings.

Not only is Tyrrell a prolific scorer from play, she’s also a skilled free-taker (scoring 24) which gives manager Mick Bohan another option for dead ball situations along with Sinéad Aherne.

Her presence in the forwards will give Meath backs plenty of homework to get through before throw-in on Sunday.

3. Emma Duggan

emma-duggan-kicks-her-sideos-into-a-two-point-lead-near-the-end-of-the-extra-time Emma Duggan on the ball for Meath. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Along with Wall, Emma Duggan is another important pillar of Meath’s attacking force. She finished as the top-scorer for Eamon Murray’s outfit in that final-four victory over Cork, hitting 1-5 from play.

Her late goal helped Meath cut through a seven-point deficit to force extra-time, while an additional three points from the Dunboyne star ultimately pushed her side on for a famous win.

Incredibly, Duggan is just 19 but plays with a maturity of an established inter-county stalwart. Both her and Wall were instrumental to Meath’s All-Ireland intermediate triumph last year, and they will carry that big match-day experience into Croke Park this weekend.

4. Niamh Hetherton 

niamh-hetherton-and-roisin-phelan Niamh Hetherton Source: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO

Having made her breakthrough to the senior squad in 2019 at just 18 years of age, Niamh Hetherton has graduated from emerging star to integral forward for Dublin.

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She started 2021 with an impressive performance in the league final, helping herself to a goal against Cork to help secure their second Division 1 crown. She was unlucky to be denied a second goal when her palmed effort was ruled out for a square ball. 

The Clontarf star has developed into a regular starter for Mick Bohan’s side, an impressive feat considering the spread of quality options in the Dublin squad.

5. Caoimhe O’Connor

caoimhe-oconnor-and-saoirse-lally Caoimhe O'Connor carrying possession for Dublin. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Another lively member of the Dublin attack, the five-in-a-row chasers have been blessed with the young Clontarf forward’s input this season. 

She provided Dublin’s only goal in their semi-final against Mayo, and finished with a tally of 1-1 to help them to a five-point win. 

Her score was the product of an impressive team move which arrived just two minutes after Sarah Rowe injected life into Mayo’s game with a goal at the Hill 16 end of the Croke Park pitch.

From a Mayo kickout, Lyndsey Davey pounced on a loose ball and raced through before unloading the ball to the alert O’Connor for a palmed finish to the net.

O’Connor consistently offers Dublin an option in attack, and will prove a handful for Meath should she get a chance when the two sides meet in the final. Currently named on the bench, she could come in as a late starter, though will undoubtedly offer something different if called upon otherwise.

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