Louise Ward is hoping to help UL to a third successive O'Connor Cup title - but she'll face stiff opposition from twin sister Nicola. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Sibling rivalry

Galway's twin sisters go head to head for one of the biggest prizes in Ladies football

Louise and Nicola Ward will be in opposition when holders UL take on UCD in Saturday’s O’Connor Cup decider.

THE SCENE IS set for a remarkable O’Connor Cup final in Tralee this afternoon when twin sisters do battle against each other for the coveted silverware.

Nicola and Louise Ward are key players for the Galway senior team, managed by their father Willie.

But the family bond will be put to one side for 60 minutes as Nicola, in the colours of UCD, lines out against Louise, a star for University of Limerick.

On Friday, Clare’s Niamh O’Dea netted two goals in the semi-final victory over DCU, as holders UL kept alive their hopes of a third successive title win.

UL set up a final meeting with UCD as they dug out a 3-4 to 1-8 victory.

O’Dea’s brace and UL’s other goal, scored by Aileen Wall, proved the difference in a game that DCU led by a point at half-time, 0-6 to 1-2.

O’Dea struck in the sixth minute for her first goal but after Mayo’s Sarah Rowe scored an equalising point for DCU, UL were reduced to 14 players for a ten-minute spell when Clodagh McManamon was sin-binned.

DCU, with Eabha Rutledge to the fore, moved into a two-point lead, 0-6 to 1-1, before Roisin Leonard pulled a point back for UL in first half stoppage time.

UL opened the second half in blistering fashion, with O’Dea hitting a quickfire 1-1 to turn the game on its head.

Leonard popped over her third point, from a free, to establish a 2-4 to 0-6 advantage before Carol Hegarty responded with a badly-needed point for DCU 17 minutes from time.

DCU goalkeeper Emer Ní Eafa kept Aileen Wall at bay with a stunning save but Waterford star Wall looked to have made the game safe a minute from time, as the 2015 intermediate player of the year netted UL’s third goal.

Following a lengthy stoppage after DCU player Gillian O’Brien received treatment for an injury, Rowe bagged her second goal and Aisling McAuliffe added a point to ensure a nervy finish for UL, who managed to hold out.

Aileen Wall Waterford's Aileen Wall found the net for UL. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

UL’s final opponents will be UCD, who surprised UCC on a 3-9 to 0-10 scoreline.

UCD will contest their first O’Connor Cup final since 2006 and are aiming for a footballing double after the men’s team captured the Sigerson Cup recently.

UCD struck the first real blow against UCC when Donegal’s Roisin Curran netted a penalty after Niamh Collins was fouled.

That goal handed UCD an early 1-3 to 0-2 lead and they were 2-4 to 0-7 clear at half-time, as Megan Glynn scored a second goal for the winners.

Cork’s Doireann O’Sullivan was ploughing a lone furrow up front for UCC and while she reduced the deficit to just two points with a brace of points, UCD responded with scores from Galway pair Glynn and Nicola Ward.

Nicola Ward Nicola Ward in action for Galway. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

And it was Ward who collected a third goal for UCD, who are looking to bridge a ten-year gap back to their previous O’Connor Cup win.

For UCC, Cork defender Roisin Phelan impressed but Emma Farmer and Eimear Scally, while both introduced, were carrying injuries into the game and struggled to make an impact.

Meanwhile, UL’s second team will play DIT in the Lynch Cup final, following a 1-19 to 4-6 semi-final victory over Waterford IT.

UL’s final opponents will be last year’s runners-up DIT, who saw off UUJ after extra-time on a 1-22 to 2-11 scoreline.

Elsewhere, Cork’s eight-time All-Ireland senior medallist Juliet Murphy returned to football, and scored a goal, but she couldn’t prevent a Giles Cup semi-final defeat for Cork IT, who lost out by 2-4 to 2-10 against St Patrick’s College.

Their final opponents on Saturday will be Mary Immaculate College, who squeezed past IT Carlow with just a point to spare, running out 1-10 to 1-9 winners.


O’Connor Cup semi-finals:

University of Limerick 3-4 Dublin City University 1-8
University College Dublin 3-9 University College Cork 0-10

Lynch Cup semi-finals:

University of Limerick 1-19 Waterford IT 4-6
Dublin IT 1-22 University of Ulster, Jordanstown 2-11 (after extra-time).

Giles Cup semi-finals:

IT Carlow 1-9 Mary Immaculate College 1-10
Cork IT 2-4 St Patrick’s College 2-10

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