Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 12°C
The football championship is the most exciting it's been for years
More goals and increasingly fluid football are just two reasons to keep believing.

Dublin fans celebrate Morgan Treacy / INPHO A Dublin fan celebrates their first goal today. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

THERE ARE MORE goals being scored than ever before. The battle for supremacy is fiercer than ever. Some of the greatest players in the history of the game are gracing the field.

We are, of course, talking about the TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football Championship.

The men’s final might have all the attention today but, let’s face it, the championship has shipped plenty of criticism in recent years with a cacophony of complaints about blanket defences, provincial structures and being a largely predictable affair.

The same can’t be said for the ladies’ competition which saw both Dublin and Cork survive huge scares at earlier stages and so we’re left with two teams ready to put it all on the line in Croke Park next Sunday.

1. More goals

Sinead Aherne on her way to scoring a goal Tom Beary / INPHO Sinead Aherne of Dublin scores a goal in the quarter-final. Tom Beary / INPHO / INPHO

Fans of modern Gaelic football always bemoan the lack of goal-scoring action. Indeed, in the six games across the men’s All-Ireland quarter and semi-finals, the matches averaged just two maximums per game.

However, since we reached the final eight of the ladies’ championship, the green flags have been flying up with an average of nearly four goals per game and we can expect the same to continue next Sunday.

2. A real rivalry

Marie Ambrose and Roisin Phelan with Muireann Ni Scanail Ryan Byrne / INPHO Cork's Marie Ambrose and Roisin Phelan with Muireann Ni Scanail of Dublin. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

This will be the third year in succession that Dublin and Cork meet for the right to lift the Brendan Martin Cup and the Blues will be out for revenge following two agonising defeats.

In 2014, the Rebels came from 10 points down in the final quarter to win by just one point, 2-13 to 2-12. Last year, the gap was two points with Cork again producing a late rally to claim the win.

On Sunday we’ll see a Dublin team with plenty of motivation to overturn those results.

3. Legends on show

Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup Ryan Byrne / INPHO Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

While misty-eyed fans of the men’s championship would love to be able to say they saw Páidí Ó Sé or Pat Spillane win one of their multiple All-Ireland football medals, Sunday presents match-goers with an opportunity to see the two most decorated GAA players of all time.

Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery have no fewer than 16 All-Ireland titles between them across two codes and both will be going for a 10th football title in Croke Park next weekend.

4. More open football

Sinead Goldrick and Cora Staunton Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Cora Staunton is one of the all-time greats. Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

Countless hours have been spent by inter-county managers trying to figure out how to beat the so-called blanket defence with countless more spent by fans bemoaning its very existence.

The same can’t be said for the ladies’ game where open, attacking football is the order of the day with the likes of Cora Staunton, Sinead Aherne and Valerie Mulcahy among the most attack-minded footballers of the last decade.

5. A growing audience

A view of the crowd Donall Farmer / INPHO Will you be there next Sunday? Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Last year, not only did the TG4 Ladies Football final attendance of 31,083 set a new record for the sport in Ireland, it also set a new benchmark across the continent as the highest attended women’s sporting event in all of Europe, surpassing the 30,710 who turned up for the Ladies FA Cup final in England.

If you head along to Croke Park next Sunday, that number could go up yet again.

Today Lidl handed out 20,000 radio headsets at Croke Park to put the Ladies All-Ireland Final next Sunday 25 September on the radar. From clever marketing to healthy food drops, Lidl have shown serious support for ladies’ football this year. Now it’s time for you to show yours. Commercial / YouTube

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