THE Lidl Ladies National Football League continues apace, with a massive round 3 weekend in store.
There are four ‘double-header’ fixtures pencilled in – and two mammoth clashes will be televised live.
Dublin and Cork face off in front of the eir sport cameras at Croke Park on Saturday (5pm), before TG4 screen the meeting of Connacht rivals Mayo and Galway on Sunday (12pm).
Monaghan and Kerry lock horns at Pairc Grattan in Inniskeen (12pm), before the men’s teams from the respective counties do battle.
And Roscommon’s ladies have the honour of hosting Meath at Dr. Hyde Park (12pm), with the teams set to battle it out ahead of the Roscommon v Down men’s fixture at the same venue.
Saturday 10th February
Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 – Round 3
Dublin v Cork
Venue: Croke Park
Referee: G Corrigan, Down
The weekend gets off to a cracking start with the ‘Battle of the Champions’ at Croke Park.
Dublin, the reigning TG4 All-Ireland senior champions, host Lidl Division 1 holders Cork in a fixture that will be televised live by eir sport.
It’s the first time that Cork have played a League fixture at Croke Park and just the second time that Dublin have lined out at the Drumcondra venue in the same competition.
This is a chance for both sides to lay down a significant early-season marker and the respective managers, Dublin’s Mick Bohan and his Cork counterpart Ephie Fitzgerald, have announced strong starting line-ups.
Dublin have 11 of the team that started in last September’s All-Ireland final victory over Mayo listed for this game while Cork can call upon a potentially lethal attack that includes in-form Eimear Scally and Orla Finn.
Dublin and Cork have both won their opening two Lidl League fixtures of 2018 and something’s got to give here.
Sunday 11th February
Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 – Round 3
Monaghan v Kerry
Venue: Pairc Grattan, Inniskeen
Referee: B Rice, Down
Monaghan are bottom of the table on scoring difference, and without a single point from two games.
They welcome Kerry to Inniskeen in another weekend ‘double-header’, with the Ladies teams set to battle it out ahead of their male counterparts.
Kerry lost out heavily to Cork in their opening League fixture but with Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh in sparkling form, the Kingdom produced an encouraging performance to oust Mayo last weekend.
Monaghan could badly do with a belated kick-start to their campaign but much will depend on how Kerry perform following their long trip north.
Galway v Mayo
Venue: Pearse Stadium
Referee: S Mulvihill, Kerry
The second live televised game of the weekend will see the TG4 cameras pitch up at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
This is another of the weekend’s ‘double-headers’, with the Galway and Mayo men set to face off after the ladies.
Galway are moving nicely in Division 1 and with Dublin and Cork meeting on Saturday, the Tribeswomen could possibly move into second place over the weekend.
But they’ll get nothing easy in the Connacht derby from Mayo, who will be anxious to atone for last weekend’s setback against Kerry.
Galway have already claimed an early-season Connacht Winter League final victory over Mayo but this one could be closer.
Westmeath v Donegal
Referee: G McMahon, Mayo
Westmeath are another team who could do with points, as they’ve come up empty-handed in their opening two games of the season.
Promoted from Division 2 last year, the Lake County have found the going tough so far in the top flight, while Donegal have one point from two games so far.
Maxi Curran’s charges lost to Dublin in their first game but claimed a creditable draw at home to Galway last weekend, when Yvonne Bonner nailed a late equalising free on her home soil in Glenfin.
Lidl Ladies NFL Division 2 – Round 3
Clare v Cavan
Venue: Doonbeg GAA
Referee: K Delahunty, Tipperary
A crucial battle in the hunt for top four spots. Cavan are two points behind pace-setters Tyrone and Tipperary, with Clare a point further back.
Cavan are unbeaten from two games while Clare were well beaten by Waterford last weekend, having narrowly accounted for Sligo in their opening match of the season.
Cavan won’t relish the long trip to Doonbeg but they have forwards Aisling Doonan and Bronagh Sheridan in excellent form.
Tyrone v Tipperary
Venue: Drumragh, Clanabogan
Referee: K McKeever, Armagh
The battle of the top two in Division 2, and a repeat of last year’s TG4 All-Ireland intermediate final.
Tyrone and Tipperary are both 2/2 so far this season and this should be a really interesting game in Drumragh.
Tipp lead the pack on scoring difference, just three points ahead of Tyrone, and the winners here will move within touching distance of a semi-final spot.
Sligo v Armagh
Venue: St Marys, Dr Kent Park, Ballydoogan, Sligo Town
Referee: K Corcoran, Mayo
Sligo need to get off the mark in Division 2 after suffering two defeats so far and it doesn’t get much easier for them when Armagh march into town.
Armagh lost out narrowly against Tipp in their opening match but secured a point in a thrilling draw with Ulster rivals Cavan last weekend.
Aimee Mackin will lead the attacking charge for Armagh, as Sligo look to the likes of Emma Kevany for inspiration up front.
Laois v Waterford
Referee: S McNulty, Wicklow
Laois are finding the going tough in Division 2 and are bottom of the table with a -31 scoring difference.
It could be another challenging afternoon for the O’Moore County as Waterford bounced back to form with an impressive drubbing of Clare last weekend.
That result was a perfect pick-me-up for the Déise after they lost to Tyrone in round 1.
Another win here would have Pat Sullivan’s visitors to Mountmellick very much in the hunt for a top-four finish.
Lidl Ladies NFL Division 3 – Round 3
Longford v Down
Venue: McGann Park, Keenagh
Referee: G Carmody, Mayo
Division 3 is a congested grouping, with Down alongside Roscommon on three points after two games.
That’s three shy of Meath, Wexford and Kildare, who have six points on the board so far.
Down will look to make ground against a Longford side smarting from two opening defeats, and carrying a scoring difference that sees the Midlanders anchored to the foot of the table.
Leitrim v Offaly
Venue: Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, Carrick on Shannon
Referee: G Chapman, Sligo)
After conceding their opening two games, it’s a huge boost to see Leitrim finally back in action this weekend.
They welcome Offaly to Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon and the hope now is that any off-field issues can be put to one side, with the focus firmly on football.
Despite not playing a game yet, Leitrim could still end up fighting for promotion if they can get points on the board from the start.
Kildare v Wexford
Venue: Hawkfield (Pitch 2)
Referee: A Gallagher, Dublin
Kildare and Wexford are two of the three teams on maximum points as round 3 looms large on the horizon.
Three of those points for Kildare were as a result of a Leitrim concession but the Lilywhites accounted for Offaly last weekend.
Wexford were beaten Division 3 finalists last year and have made a strong start again this season under the management of former county team goalkeeper Anthony Masterson.
Roscommon v Meath
Venue: Dr Hyde Park
Referee: M Kenny
Meath have been in excellent scoring form so far this season, boasting a +51 points difference after two matches.
Roscommon will provide a stern examination of the Royal County’s credentials, however, and the hosts will want to bounce back to winning ways after shipping five goals to Down last weekend.
In an overall context, this is a key fixture as the jockeying for top four positions gathers pace, and it’s another ‘double-header’ fixture before the Roscommon men take on Down.
Lidl Ladies NFL Division 4 – Round 3
Limerick v Wicklow
Referee: J Devlin, Galway
Division 4 is shaping up to be an interesting group and this game is a pivotal one.
Limerick are unbeaten after drawing with Carlow before beating Antrim impressively.
Wicklow have maximum points to date (three of those resulting from a Kilkenny concession) and they’re sitting pretty in second place behind Louth on scoring difference.
Carlow v Derry
Venue: Fenagh Training Centre
Referee: B Redmond, Wexford
Carlow welcome Derry to Fenagh in what is a repeat of last year’s TG4 All-Ireland junior semi-final.
Derry edged what was a low-scoring encounter on that occasion but the Oak Leafers have lost their opening two League fixtures of 2018.
Carlow have one point on the board and will look to make home advantage count here.
Fermanagh v Louth
Venue: St. Pats, Donagh
Referee: K Bogle, Tyrone
Fermanagh are reigning TG4 All-Ireland junior champions and have one win on the board from two outings thus far.
They welcome pace-setters Louth for an interesting clash and the visitors will fancy their chances of making it three from three.
Louth hammered Kilkenny in their opening fixture before seeing off Carlow last time out.
Antrim v Kilkenny
Venue: Rathmore GS, Belfast
Referee: S Coyle, Donegal
Antrim beat Fermanagh in their opening League match but were then overturned by Limerick last weekend.
If Antrim are to challenge for a Division 4 title, they’ll need to rid themselves of that inconsistency but a home fixture with Kilkenny presents the opportunity to put more points on the board.
The Cats conceded their game against Wicklow last weekend, and lost out to Louth in their first match.