Compiled by Jackie Cahill
THE time has come to crown the 2019 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football champions.
All three Finals are down for decision at Croke Park next Sunday, September 15, and all three are LIVE on TG4.
The action gets underway at 11.45am when Fermanagh, the 2017 Champions, take on Louth, last year’s runners-up.
That’s followed by the meeting of Tipperary, the 2017 winners, and Meath, the 2018 runners-up, in the Intermediate decider at 1.45pm.
The scene will then be set for the Senior Final between Dublin, chasing a third successive crown, and Galway, appearing in just their third Senior Final, and looking to repeat their once and only Brendan Martin Cup win in 2004, when they beat the Sky Blues.
TG4 All-Ireland Senior Final
Dublin v Galway; Croke Park, 4pm, LIVE TG4
THREE-in-a-row for Dublin, or Galway to bridge a 15-year gap? All will be revealed on Sunday afternoon as the two counties battle it out for the biggest prize in Ladies Gaelic Football – the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship crown.
Dublin are very much the established force, and appearing in their sixth successive Final.
They’ve won the last two, against Mayo in 2017, with 46,286 spectators present, and against Cork last year, in front of another record attendance, 50,141.
In Ladies Gaelic Football history, just two counties have managed to achieve the three-in-a-row.
Cork won six on the spin between from 2011-2016, and they also annexed five titles in succession from 2005-2009.
The great Kerry team of the 1980s won a remarkable nine-in-a-row from 1982-1990, and so Dublin will join illustrious company if they can manage to make it a treble.
Standing in the way of Dublin and a fourth Brendan Martin Cup success in all are Galway, who contested successive Finals in 2004 and 2005, but haven’t been back in a showpiece decider since then.
Galway beat Dublin in 2004, before falling to Cork a year later. In recent times, Galway have been hoovering up titles at underage level, but today hands the Tribeswomen the opportunity to reach the Senior summit for just the second time.
These are two teams that know plenty about each other. Galway were the only team to achieve a competitive victory over Dublin in 2018, during the group stages of the Lidl National League.
Dublin, however, beat the Westerners in the 2018 Lidl NFL semi-final, before repeating the trick in the TG4 All-Ireland semi-final.
Last March, the sides met in Moycullen, when Dublin won out on a 2-8 to 1-7 scoreline in the Lidl National League group stages.
Galway went on to contest the Lidl NFL Division 1 Final, but Cork had the upper hand at Parnell Park.
From there, Galway picked themselves up to prepare for a TG4 Connacht Senior Final against Mayo, and they retained the silverware following a replay at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, following a thrilling stalemate at Elvery’s MacHale Park in Castlebar.
Victories over Kerry and Westmeath saw Galway top Group 3 of the qualifiers, before they progressed to the semi-finals with a hard-fought win against Waterford.
That set Galway up for another crack at Mayo – the third time that the counties had clashed in this year’s Championship – and Tim Rabbitt’s charges prevailed with just a point to spare in a cracking semi-final at Croke Park.
In six Championship outings, Galway have racked up 10-68, or an average of 16 points per game, while they’ve conceded 9-41, or an average of just over 11 points per game.
Galway may not score as freely as Dublin, but they don’t concede a huge amount either.
Captain Tracey Leonard has managed 3-26, including 14 pointed frees, which makes her Galway’s highest-scorer of the campaign, while cousin Róisín has chipped in with 1-13 (0-6f).
At the other end, no team has scored more than 15 points against Galway in Championship 2019, with Mayo registering 3-6 in the drawn Connacht Final and 2-9 in the recent All-Ireland semi-final.
Dublin’s path to the Final has been more serene. They achieved eight-in-a-row in Leinster with victory over Westmeath, and wins since against Waterford, Monaghan, Kerry and Cork have brought them back to another Final.
There was a sense that Dublin hadn’t been properly tested before facing Cork at Croke Park last time out, but they turned up the heat in the second half to see off familiar rivals.
Looking at Dublin’s totals, they’ve racked up a huge tally of 19-72 in just five Championship games.
That’s almost four goals per game on average, and over 14 points. Defensively, Dublin have leaked just 5-37, or 1-7 on average.
Captain Sinéad Aherne, in just three outings, is Dublin’s leading Championship scorer, with 4-19 (2-0 penalties, 0-13f), while Niamh McEvoy has had a tremendously consistent season also, weighing in with 4-11 (0-6f).
Oonagh Whyte, Lyndsey Davey, Nicole Owens (sadly ruled out through injury), Caoimhe O’Connor, Carla Rowe and Niamh Hetherton have also been among the goals for the Sky Blues, who have had scoring contributions from 18 different players in Championship 2019.
On the maroon and white side, 12 players have been on the scoresheet for Galway during their season, with Mairéad Seoighe, Megan Glynn, Louise Ward and Leanne Coen raising green flags along with the Leonard cousins.
There’s scoring power on both sides, and defensive solidity, or otherwise, will have a big say in the destination of the Brendan Martin Cup. History beckons for both sides – but who will prevail?
Dublin (v Galway): C Trant; É Rutledge, N Collins, M Byrne; A Kane, S Goldrick, O Carey; L Magee, S McGrath; C Rowe, N McEvoy, L Davey; S Aherne (capt.), N Healy, J Dunne.
Galway (v Dublin): L Murphy; S Burke, N Ward, S Lynch; O Murphy, B Hannon, S Molloy; L Ward, Á McDonagh; O Divilly, M Glynn, M Seoighe; T Leonard (capt.), S Conneally, R Leonard.
Big match stats:
Paths to the Final:
TG4 Leinster SFC Final
Dublin 4-11 Westmeath 1-7
TG4 All-Ireland SFC Qualifier:
Dublin 5-15 Waterford 2-6
TG4 All-Ireland SFC Qualifier:
Dublin 3-20 Monaghan 0-4
TG4 All-Ireland quarter-final
Dublin 5-15 Kerry 2-9
TG4 All-Ireland semi-final:
Dublin 2-11 Cork 0-11
Sinéad Aherne – 4-19 (2-0 pen, 13f)
Niamh McEvoy 4-11 (0-6f)
Oonagh Whyte 2-7
Lyndsey Davey 2-6 (0-1f)
Nicole Owens 2-5
Caoimhe O’Connor 3-0
Carla Rowe 1-6
Noelle Healy 0-5
Niamh Hetherton 1-0
Sinéad Goldrick 0-3
Kate Sullivan 0-2
Siobhan Woods 0-2
Jennifer Dunne 0-1
Emma McDonagh 0-1
Aoife Kane 0-1
Lauren Magee 0-1
Siobhan McGrath 0-1
Éabha Rutledge 0-1
TG4 Connacht Final
Galway 1-12 Mayo 3-6
TG4 Connacht Final Replay
Galway 3-7 Mayo 0-9
TG4 All-Ireland Qualifier
Galway 1-14 Kerry 1-10
TG4 All-Ireland Qualifier
Galway 2-13 Westmeath 1-3
TG4 All-Ireland quarter-final
Galway 1-12 Waterford 2-4
TG4 All-Ireland semi-final
Galway 2-10 Mayo 2-9
Tracey Leonard 3-26 (14f)
Róisín Leonard 1-13 (6f)
Sarah Conneally 0-10
Mairéad Seoighe: 2-2
Megan Glynn 1-5
Louise Ward 2-1
Leanne Coen 1-1
Áine McDonagh 0-4
Olivia Divilly 0-3
Nicola Ward 0-1
Sinéad Burke 0-1
Lucy Hannon 0-1
TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final
Meath v Tipperary; Croke Park, 1.45pm, LIVE TG4
SUNDAY’S TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final between Meath and Tipperary has all the ingredients to produce a potential classic.
Meath, the 2018 runners-up, face off against 2017 winners Tipperary in a fixture that looks set to produce open and entertaining fare.
Both teams were impressive in their respective semi-finals, as Meath produced a brilliant second half performance against Roscommon, after Tipperary had accounted for Sligo in the opening game of the Nowlan Park double-header.
The counties have already met in the 2019 Championship, when Tipp enjoyed a comprehensive 6-10 to 1-14 victory in the round-robin stages of the All-Ireland series in Ardfinnan.
Tipp rocked Meath with a flurry of early goals and while the Royals found their feet later in the game, the result was never in doubt from a long way out.
Meath manager Eamonn Murray and his players will have learned plenty from that sobering afternoon, and they regrouped to see off Wicklow and Longford, and book a place in the knock-out stages.
At the All-Ireland quarter-final stage, Meath gained sweet revenge on Wexford, who had defeated them in the Leinster Final, before producing a quite magnificent second half display in the Roscommon game.
At half-time, Meath had a five-point lead, 2-8 to 1-6, but the winning margin was out to 17 points by the final whistle.
Emma Duggan, a quite outstanding talent, contributed 1-5 in total, Fiona O’Neill chipped in with 1-4, there was a 1-3 haul from Orla Byrne, and Vikki Wall collected 1-2 as Meath turned on the style.
Tipperary may have been marked out as Championship favourites from the start of the competition, but they’ll face a fiercely-determined Meath outfit, and a team carrying the hurt of Final defeat at the hands of Tyrone last year.
Meath were hit for six goals 12 months ago and will feel that they didn’t do themselves justice on the big day.
But here is another massive opportunity for Meath to show what they can do, and Tipp will be wary of their big-day opponents.
For their part, the Premier County have enjoyed a relatively straightforward Championship campaign to date.
Clare ran them close in the round-robin stages of the Munster Championship, before the gulf widened when the counties met in the Provincial decider.
They would meet for a third time, however, and Tipp were handed an extremely testing afternoon, before eventually prevailing by two points in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Even if they do win the game, and bring the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup back to the Premier County again, some may still view Tipperary’s fine Lidl National League Division 1 campaign as the high point of the campaign.
Tipp defeated Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn and Monaghan in Thurles to preserve top-flight status for 2020, before switching attention to the Championship.
After conquering Munster, Tipp won three from three in their All-Ireland qualifier group, survived the Clare challenge, and upped the ante in their most recent outing against Sligo.
Caoimhe Condon, Aishling Moloney, Aisling McCarthy and Angela McGuigan were all on song as Tipp racked up an impressive 3-15 total.
But Meath will have noted that Tipp conceded three goals in the semi-final, and they’ll also gain confidence from the fact that Clare ran Shane Ronayne’s side so close in the last-eight tie.
Having sampled Senior Championship football in 2018, Tipperary would dearly love another crack at the top grade, having lost out to Cavan in a relegation play-off last year.
All in all, this is a fourth TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final appearance for Tipperary, who won in 2008 and 2017, while also suffering defeat to Cavan in 2013.
At underage level, Meath have been making exceptionally good progress, and that certainly bodes well for the future.
But it’s all about the here and now for the Leinster representatives, who haven’t won an All-Ireland adult title since lifting the Junior title 25 years ago.
Is that long wait about to end, or will Tipperary make it two TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship wins in three seasons? All will be revealed in an eagerly-anticipated Final – and we should get a fixture befitting of the occasion.
Meath (v Tipperary): M McGuirk; K Newe, O Duff, S Powderly; O Byrne, S Ennis, S Wall; M O’Shaughnessy (capt.), A Cleary; E Duggan, V Wall, M Thynne; B Lynch, K Nesbitt, F O’Neill.
Tipperary (v Meath): L Fitzpatrick; L Spillane, M Curley, E Cronin; B Condon, S Lambert (capt.), C Kennedy; A McCarthy, A.R. Kennedy; N Lonergan, A Moloney, O O’Dwyer; A Fennessy, A McGuigan, C Condon.
TG4 All-Ireland Junior Final
Fermanagh v Louth; Croke Park, 11.45am, LIVE TG4
TWO teams with recent Croke Park experience go head to head in Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship Final.
Louth were the 2018 runners-up, and are appearing in a sixth All-Ireland Junior Championship Final.
For Fermanagh, this is their second Final appearance, or third if you take into account their 2017 replay victory over Derry in Clones.
Louth will be hoping to atone for defeat against Limerick on the big day 12 months ago, while Fermanagh are aiming for a second West County Hotel Cup win in three years.
Louth’s record in Junior Finals reads Played 5, won 2, and they will look to put some credit in the ‘win’ section.
Their first appearance, in 1998, was a landmark one, as the Wee County lifted the Junior title.
Final defeats followed in 2010 and 2012, before they finally cracked the code in 2015, defeating Scotland in the showpiece decider.
Fermanagh, meanwhile, needed two bites of the cherry two years ago to get past the challenge of Derry, as Sharon Murphy’s late, late penalty goal sent the game to a replay.
For many of the players on show, the Croke Park experience should hold no fears, and an entertaining fixture is anticipated.
Louth are unbeaten en route to the Final, picking up the Leinster title along the way, while Fermanagh have had to deal with a setback, after they lost out to Antrim in the Ulster decider.
Fermanagh did gain revenge on the Saffrons when they met again in the All-Ireland Championship group stages, while another victory over Derry saw the Erne County finish on top of Group B.
That set up an All-Ireland semi-final clash with London, and Fermanagh came through that one in style, running out 0-16 to 3-3 winners against the Exiles.
Eimear Smyth, who was The Croke Park/LGFA Player of the Month for April, sparkled against London, scoring six of her nine points from play.
She’s a player that Louth will need to keep a close eye on, and she managed a haul of 0-5, including three pointed frees, when the counties met in Division 4 of the Lidl National League in April.
On that occasion, Louth ran out 2-19 to 2-10 winners, and that result, coupled with their excellent Championship form, should fill the Wee County with optimism ahead of this Final.
Fermanagh are not solely reliant on Smyth, of course, as Blaithin Bogue and captain Joanne Doonan are other key players who fuel their attack.
Fermanagh, overall, are a nicely-balanced side and facing off against Louth will hold no fear for manager Jonny Garrity and his players.
For Louth, it’s a second successive Final and manager Darren Bishop will be hoping to learn the lessons from the Limerick reverse last year.
Louth started as many people’s favourites on that occasion but the team didn’t deliver a performance that it’s capable of.
A second chance has now presented itself and the added prize on offer is the chance to play Intermediate Championship Football in 2020.
Kate Flood will lead Louth into action this afternoon, as she did last year, and she was in dominant form against Antrim in the recent semi-final, contributing 2-6 of her side’s 3-15 tally.
Antrim were overwhelmed, posting just 1-5 in reply, as Lauren Boyle, Rebecca Carr, Niamh Rice, Michelle McMahon, Eimear Byrne and Susan Byrne also got on the scoresheet.
And so the scene is set for what promises to be an intriguing TG4 All-Ireland Junior Final this afternoon, as Fermanagh and Louth get proceedings underway on the biggest day of the year.
Fermanagh (v Louth): S Murphy; A Maguire, E Murphy, M Flynn; M McGloin, C Murphy, S McQuaid; R O’Reilly, A Flanagan; J Doonan (capt.), L Maguire, D Maguire; A O’Brien, E Smyth, B Bogue.
Louth (v Fermanagh): U Pearson; E Hand, S Quinn, S McLoughlin; C Nolan, M McMahon, D Osborne; E Byrne, A Byrne; R Carr, S Byrne, A Russell; L Boyle, K Flood (capt.), N Rice.Tweet