A mouthwatering double header awaits on Sunday as the 2020 TG4 All Ireland Intermediate and Senior Championships come to a conclusion
Compiled by Jackie Cahill
The 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate and Senior Ladies Football Championship Finals will bring the curtain down on Croke Park’s inter-county playing year on Sunday.
It’s a tasty double-header down for decision at GAA HQ – with Meath and Westmeath meeting in an all-Leinster Intermediate decider at 1.15pm, followed by the Senior Final between Cork and four-in-a-row chasing Dublin.
Both games are live on TG4 and available worldwide on the TG4 Player: http://bit.ly/37oJ7a1
TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship Final
Sunday December 20, 2020
Cork v Dublin – Croke Park, 3.30pm – Live on TG4 and worldwide on the TG4 Player: http://bit.ly/37oJ7a1
FOUR-in-a-row for Dublin – or Cork’s first title since 2016?
All will be revealed at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon, as the two counties contest the 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship Final.
Dublin are aiming for a fifth title in all (2010 was their breakthrough success), while Cork were winners 11 times between 2005 and 2016.
Between them, Cork and Dublin have carved up the last 15 All-Ireland Senior title wins – and that run will extend to 16 as the old rivals lock horns once again on the big day.
Dublin and Cork met first in a Senior Final in 2009, won by Cork, and they contested three successive Finals in 2014, 2015 and 2016, all three of those won by Cork also.
Dublin finally broke that hoodoo with a 2018 Final victory over the Leesiders, and followed up with another notable Croke Park success last year, when the Sky Blues won the clash between the counties at the semi-final stage.
Both sides have shown good form en route to another Final meeting. Cork scored a crucial group victory over Munster rivals Kerry to kick-start their campaign, before Áine Terry O’Sullivan’s hat-trick of goals helped Ephie Fitzgerald’s side to a 7-9 to 2-6 win against Cavan, to book a slot in the semi-finals.
At Croke Park last time out, Cork went through the gears against Galway, nine points from Orla Finn, and goals from Ciara O’Sullivan and Melissa Duggan sending them through to the Final.
Finn is out in front as Cork’s leading scorer with 1-17, followed by Saoirse Noonan (3-4), Áine Terry O’Sullivan (3-3), team captain Doireann O’Sullivan (0-8), and sister Ciara (1-4).
In total, Cork have had nine different scorers in Championship 2020, collecting a total of 10-40, and conceding 2-33 along the way.
Dublin, in contrast, have bagged 5-43 in their three matches to date, while conceding 6-28, three of those goals against Armagh in the recent semi-final.
Dublin’s 3-13, including 2-4 for Carla Rowe, was good enough for victory against the Orchard County, who deposited 3-8 at Kingspan Breffni.
That five-point winning margin was Dublin’s biggest in the Championship, as they got past Donegal in the opening round by three, before seeing off Waterford by four.
Captain Sinéad Aherne has led the way with a total of 1-13, followed by Rowe (2-7), Noelle Healy (1-5), Nicole Owens (1-0) and Sarah McCaffrey (0-3).
Dublin have the ability, however, to contribute scores from so many areas of the pitch, with 15 different players on the scoreboard over the course of three games.
It was Dublin’s ability to score goals – two of them – that proved the difference at Croke Park in the 2019 semi-final.
Cork, with ten green flags to date, will feel that they will need to get more on Sunday in an attempt to topple the Champions.
Just two counties in the history of the Senior Championship have claimed four successive titles during winning runs – Cork and Kerry – and Dublin, appearing in a seventh straight Final, have the chance to join that elite band.
There’s one change for Dublin from the semi-final victory over Armagh – with Niamh McEvoy replacing Sarah McCaffrey.
Cork are unchanged from the team that accounted for Galway at the semi-final stage.
Cork: M O’Brien; E Meaney, R Phelan, S Kelly; M Duggan, A Hutchings, E O’Shea; M O’Callaghan, H Looney; E Kiely, C O’Sullivan, O Finn; Á O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan (capt.), S Noonan.
Dublin: C Trant; M Byrne, N Collins, A Kane; L Caffrey, S McGrath, S Goldrick; L Magee, J Dunne; N Healy, L Davey, C Rowe; S Aherne (capt.), N McEvoy, N Owens.
TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final
Sunday December 20, 2020
Meath v Westmeath – Croke Park, 1.15pm – Live on TG4 and worldwide on the TG4 Player: http://bit.ly/37oJ7a1
IT’S an all-Leinster pairing in Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final at Croke Park – with neighbours Meath and Westmeath meeting for the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup, and Senior Championship football in 2021.
There’s huge motivation for both teams to claim the silverware, based on recent history.
Westmeath, who won this competition last in 2011, were relegated from the Senior grade last year, but are hoping to bounce straight back at the first attempt.
Meath, meanwhile, are contesting a third successive Intermediate Final, and hoping to get over the line after losing to Tyrone in 2018, and Tipperary last year.
You also have to go all the way back to 1994 for Meath’s last All-Ireland adult title win, when the Royal County claimed the Junior crown.
Meath have come on in leaps and bounds since a narrow two-point victory over Down in their opening group game.
In their last two matches, Eamonn Murray’s charges have collected a combined haul of 9-31 (5-18 against Leitrim and 4-13 in the All-Ireland semi-final win against Clare).
Meath will also be happy with the defensive aspect of their game, with just 0-14 conceded across those two games, following the concession of 1-6 to Down.
Meath’s leading scorer in the 2020 Championship is Stacey Grimes, with an impressive haul of 4-15, which included 2-6 against Clare.
Bridgetta Lynch (3-2), Emma Duggan (0-8) and Megan Thynne and Niamh O’Sullivan (1-3 each) are other players who have been in good scoring form.
Meath have had 12 players contributing to the scoreboard in their three outings to date, while opponents Westmeath have had ten different scorers.
Out in front in the scoring stakes for the Lake County is experienced forward Leona Archibold (2-9) while Ciara Blundell (4-3), Karen Hegarty (3-3), Lucy McCartan (1-3) and Sarah McCormack (2-0) have also been prominent.
Westmeath opened their campaign in devastating fashion against Longford, scoring 9-9, before following up with 3-11 in the victory over Louth, and 2-9 in the narrow semi-final win against Roscommon.
Westmeath enjoyed relatively comfortable group wins, and being handed a real test by Roscommon will surely have been welcomed privately by Sean Finnegan and his management team.
With both teams possessing players of rich quality, this could be an open and entertaining affair, or on the cagey side.
Meath have collected 9-42 en route to the Final, while leaking just 1-20 at the other end, while Westmeath have notched 14-29, while conceding 3-24.
It’s all set up for an intriguing encounter, in what will be the first all-Leinster TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final since Louth defeated Wexford in 1999.
Both sides are unchanged ahead of the Final, following their semi-final wins.
Meath: M McGuirk; K Newe, S Wall, E Troy; N Gallogly, S Ennis, M Thynne; A Cleary, M O’Shaughnessy (capt.); E Duggan, V Wall, O Lally; N O’Sullivan, B Lynch, S Grimes.
Westmeath: L McCormack; R Dillon, L Power, N Spellman; L Duncan, F Claffey (capt.), A Roche; J Maher, T Dillon; A Jones, L Archibold, V Carr; L McCartan, K Hegarty, C Blundell.