Semi-Final Showdowns

The four teams bidding for TG4 All-Ireland senior championship glory

Dublin, Mayo, Cork and Meath are still in the hunt for the Brendan Martin Cup.


jennifer-dunne-carla-rowe-and-niamh-mcevoy-celebrate-at-the-final-whistle Dublin are chasing five-in-a-row. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Their recent semi-final history involves…win after win. The four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions have been in the last four every year since 2014. Last year, they saw off Armagh, while in 2019, it was Cork.

Their championship so far…has seen them coast through, mostly in second gear. After comprehensive group-stage wins over Waterford and Tyrone, Donegal came as a sizeable challenge in the quarter-final. They were put to the pin of their collar at times in this tough battle — particularly after Donegal’s quick start — but ultimately, Dublin had too much and got the job done.

Reasons to be optimistic…their championship dominance since 2017 has been unrivaled, and they’re showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. Most teams find it hard to live with their running game and physicality, and today could be no different as they look to continue their flawless championship run since the 2016 All-Ireland final defeat. Hannah Tyrrell has been a revelation this year, seamlessly filling the void left by the retired Noelle Healy. With Sinéad Goldrick yet to come in, their bench is absolutely stacked. Mick Bohan’s biggest headache heading into this one was probably picking his starting 15 and matchday panel, with competition for places through the roof.

Cause for concern…how the game will be refereed. It’s something that’s been under the spotlight and debated of late, and with plenty of eyes on this one, it will be interesting to see what the man in the middle, Seamus Mulvihill, does. There’s no doubt about it, Dublin push the tackle to the limit. Martha Byrne was sin-binned in the late stages of their quarter-final victory, but several others could have also seen yellow. Keeping 15 players on the pitch is paramount.

Key players: Carla Rowe, Lyndsey Davey, Jennifer Dunne, Olwen Carey.


mayo-v-galway-tg4-all-ireland-senior-ladies-football-championship-quarter-final Mayo need a big performance from Sarah Rowe. Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Their recent semi-final history involves…a defeat to Galway in 2019, a famous win over Cork in 2017 to end their seven-in-a-row bid, and a loss to Dublin in 2016.

Their championship so far…has been a mixed bag. They faced an Ulster minefield in their group, and it proved really testing. An opening-day victory over Cavan was followed by a dramatic 30m free-kick shoot-out win against Monaghan after a fierce extra-time tussle, and then a disappointing 11-point loss to Armagh. Battle-hardened for their quarter-final clash with Galway, they turned it on on the big stage to prevail.

Reasons to be optimistic: On paper, they have one of the best forward lines in the country, and they really clicked against Galway. Sarah Rowe was at her best along with the Kelly sisters, Niamh and Grace, Rachel Kearns, Shauna Howley and Sinéad Cafferky, who hit 1-2 from midfield. She’s really impressing there alongside Fiona McHale, in the absence of Aileen Gilroy. In Michael Moyles’ first year in charge, this is “bonus territory,” as he said himself. They’ll certainly take it.

Cause for concern…this is Dublin. Everyone is well aware they’re on another level and this is a massive step up. Everything will be cranked up a few notches, namely the pace and intensity. Containing Bohan’s star-studded attack is the big worry, so Mayo need to bring the game to Dublin, get the scoreboard ticking over, match their physicality, and try and play on their terms from the off. Keeping a card up their sleeve for later in the game might be no harm either.

Key players: Sarah Rowe, Grace Kelly, Fiona McHale, Dayna Finn.


cork-players-celebrates-after-the-game-with-the-division-1-cup Cork's last piece of national silverware came in the 2019 league final. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Their recent semi-final history involves…eight wins in the last 10. Last year, they accounted for Galway, while defeats have came to just Dublin (2019) and Mayo (2017) at this stage since 2011.

Their championship so far…hasn’t exactly been convincing, despite their 100% record. A two-point opening-day win over tomorrow’s opponents Meath, the 2020 intermediate champions, got them off the mark, before a flurry of late goals flattered them against injury-ravaged Tipperary. They beat Waterford by six last time out, but in truth, were pushed all the way. That said, they’re still getting the job done, and know exactly how to peak when it matters most.

Reasons to be optimistic…while not at full tilt and quite sloppy at times, they’ve passed every test so far. A lot of the talk through the build-up has been about Meath and their remarkable rise, so Cork will be happy to come into this one a little more under the radar than usual. Eimear Scally has impressed in attack since her return to the side, while Doireann O’Sullivan is a serious weapon to bring off a brilliant bench. Still largely a very young team, they have plenty of experience and know-how.

Cause for concern…Ephie Fitzgerald has had no shortage of injury worries. Orla Finn is the big absentee tomorrow, and her loss is a massive one. One of the best forwards — and most accurate free-takers in the country — they’ll have to try and turn it into a positive, and look at it as a chance for someone else to step up and be the hero. The aforementioned O’Sullivan is another on the list of those who have struggled to reach full fitness. More generally, big on-field improvements are needed.

Key players: Ciara O’Sullivan, Melissa Duggan, Eimear Scally, Erika O’Shea.


orlagh-lally-emma-troy-emma-duggan-and-vikki-wall Meath's deadly Dunboyne duo Emma Duggan and Vikki Wall celebrate the landmark win over Armagh, with Orlagh Lally and Emma Troy embracing in the background. John McVitty / INPHO John McVitty / INPHO / INPHO

Their recent semi-final history involves…going back to the late nineties and 2000 where they lost three-in-row at senior level. Relegated after the 2016 season, this is their first year back in the top-flight after making it third time lucky in the intermediate final last year. A win over Westmeath sent Eamon Murray’s side back up after decider defeats to Tyrone (2018) and Tipperary (2017), and a semi-final loss to the latter in their first year down.

Their championship so far…has captured the imagination. Their stunning quarter-final win over Armagh set the championship alight as their dream return to the top-flight hit new heights. That came after that narrow loss to Cork, and a 14-point win over Tipperary, in which they survived a stern third-quarter test before a Vikki Wall wondergoal sent them on their way.

Reasons to be optimistic…there’s plenty. They have nothing to lose, and have a real chance of causing a massive upset and reaching their first-ever All-Ireland senior final. Playing a lovely brand of counter-attacking football, their half-forward line drops to form a blanket defence and then they all break at speed. Their attackers, Emma Duggan and Vikki Wall to name two of the big stars, are on fire at the minute, and they’re all well used to the big occasion and trips to HQ at this stage.

Cause for concern…while they’re well-drilled, have a game plan they know inside out, and execute it to perfection, this is up a level. Armagh looked quite naive in the quarter-final, and didn’t have enough homework done. Cork most certainly will.

Key players: Vikki Wall, Emma Duggan, Emma Troy, Máire O’Shaughnessy.

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