WE’RE REALLY HITTING the business end now.
Ladies football heavyweights Dublin and Cork are set for a mouth-watering All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park on Sunday, 25 August.
Mick Bohan’s All-Ireland champions are seeking three in-a-row this year, and sealed their place in the last four with a 5-15 to 2-9 win over Kerry yesterday.
On Saturday, Cork powered on following an emphatic 7-18 to 3-4 win over Tyrone. Now, we await a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final — and many meetings of the arch-rivals over the past few years.
“I didn’t get involved in this to be not excited, I love those days,” Sky Blues boss Bohan said after his side’s win yesterday with attention now switched to the Rebels.
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“We have set a real high standard for ourselves as a group. We look forward to reaching that one.
Cork were excellent on Saturday. They looked very, very slick. A huge scoreline so they are certainly the ones in the driving seat. That is the challenge.
In Division 1 of the league this year, Cork knocked then-champions Dublin off their perch after a semi-final replay and prevailed to beat Galway in the decider.
They got their day in the sun again, gaining more revenge for last year’s All-Ireland final loss at Croke Park after also beating the Jackies in the round-robin stages.
This is different, however. This is championship.
After Cork won their decider meetings in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Dublin finally came up trumps against Mayo in 2017. And last year, they ultimately got Cork back for those three successive defeats.
This year, though, with a different All-Ireland final pairing on the horizon, the battle of the big guns will be decided in the semi-final. (The other quarter-finals take place this weekend: Armagh v Mayo and Galway v Waterford).
“It is really important that we get ourselves to another level in the next three weeks,” Bohan added, with his captain and 2-5-scoring player-of-the-match Sinéad Aherne echoing the Clontarf clubman’s words.
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“It’s a massive chunk of time to try and get things right,” the back-to-back All-Ireland winning captain and 2018 Player of the Year told TG4.
“There’s a lot that we need to go back to the drawing board on, and look to improve on. They’re [Cork] obviously a really strong team so we have a bit of homework to do on them. But we have a good bit of work to do on ourselves too.”
With the semi-finals set for Croke Park for the first time ever, Cork boss Ephie Fitzgerald revealed how his side were relishing their return there after Saturday’s victory.
Our girls like playing in Croke Park,” he said, with their opponents yet to be decided at the time. “It’s a big pitch and we are a year older now.
After their surprise one-point All-Ireland series group stage loss to Armagh last weekend, the Nemo Rangers man was pleased with his team’s response against the Red Hand.
“After last week’s performance it was a blessing in disguise in terms of us coming up here prepared,” Fitzgerald said. “We were overwhelming favourites as we were last week but when it comes to knockout football the girls are very, very good.
“To put up 7-18, the second half became a bit pedestrian because of the scores, but that is good. We created so many chances our movement was fantastic and we are absolutely thrilled to be in the semi-final.”
– With reporting from Daragh Small, and quotes from the LGFA
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