It’s finally arrived match day is here and at 5pm today in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford, Dublin take on Donegal in a highly anticipated TG4 All Ireland SFC quarter final.
Reigning Leinster champions Dublin are aiming to reach the All Ireland Final in September for the third year in a row, but first they will have to get over what will be a stern test of their Championship credentials by a fired up Donegal side.
Donegal have been the surprise package this year, they pulled off a shock one point victory over Galway in the qualifiers to set up today’s clash with the Metropolitans.
Donegal may be missing some players today but they still have some quality players in their ranks including Ciara Hegarty, Niamh Hegarty, Karen Guthrie, Gráinne Houston and Katy Herron.
Up front talented forwards Yvonne McMonagle and Amber Barrett who were both goal scorers in the game against Galway, have the talent to trouble any defence.
Dublin though have been highly impressive in defence, Deirdre Murphy has been a revelation at number 3, the young St Brigid’s star probably expected to be starting on the bench this year as Muireann Ni Scanaill was favourite to be the number one choice for the fullback position. But an injury to Scanaill gave Murphy the chance to stake her claim and Deirdre took it with both hands.
Either side of Murphy there is the imposing and classy figures of Olwen Carey and Leah Caffrey who are two touch tight markers with pace and strength to the cornerback positions.
Dublin possess a formidable halfback line in the shape of Sinead Goldrick, Sinead Finnegan and Niamh Collins. All three players are no nonsense defenders and Donegal will be very lucky to get any change out of this trio. As well as there defensive capabilities, all three offer a serious attacking threat on the counter attack which Donegal will ignore at their peril.
Midfield is always a vital area to win in every game and the battle in here between Dublin’s Sorcha Furlong and Lauren Magee and Donegal pairing of Karen Guthrie and Gráinne Houston could very well decide the outcome of today’s encounter.
Dublin boast the best forward unit in the game Noelle Healy, Nicole Owens, Carla Rowe, Siobhan Woods, Sinead Aherne and Lyndsey Davey are all game winners on their own, but as a unit they are lethal and Donegal will find it extremely difficult to keep them quiet for sixty minutes.
Donegal conceded four goals against Galway and if their defence gives the Dublin forwards as much space today, they will be punished severely.
As with all theses games they can come down to fine margins or substitutions and this is where Dublin have the upper hand as they can call on the services of some top quality talent like Niamh McEvoy, Ciara Ruddy and Molly Lamb to name a few.
And that strength in depth could very well be the deciding factor in this one as Dublin have more options to change personnel or their game plan as the game progresses. With that in mind Dublin should win this one by five points plus.
Dublin Starting 15: