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Cork ladies prepare to do battle

Wednesday, 22nd August, 2018 4:27pm

All eyes will be on Cork Ladies footballers this weekend as they take on Donegal for a place in this year’s All-Ireland Final.

Cork face Ulster’s reigning champions in the semi-finals of the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies' Football Championship this Saturday, with kick-off at 2.45pm in Dr Hyde Park.

11 time winners Cork return to the latter stages of the Championship after a disappointing 2017 performance which saw them miss out on the final after losing to Mayo, having won the Championship outright the previous six years.

The date of the clash was changed after the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) took the decision to move the semi-final back one week due to Cork’s involvement in the All-Ireland camogie semi-final. Both matches were originally set for last Saturday, which would have seen two Cork players, Libby Coppinger and Hannah Looney, having to choose between codes.

Speaking about the change, the LGFA said last week it had “carefully reviewed arrangements and worked extremely hard behind the scenes in recent days to find a compromise” in order to avoid a clash.

Coppinger was one of Cork’s star performers in their football quarter-final three weeks ago as they blitzed Westmeath 8-18 to 1-06 at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Eimear Scally, Áine O’Sullivan and Saoirse Noonan were among the others on target on the day, and Ephie Fitzgerald will be hoping his players will step up again this weekend as they seek to bring the Brendan Martin Cup back Leeside.

With only one change made in the previous game, Cork will be hoping to put out a full-strength team on Saturday.

Donegal, meanwhile, qualified for the ladies’ football semi-finals for the first time in their history with a 0-19 to 1-13 win over Armagh earlier this month. Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne Bonner were among the stars of the show, with captain Karen Guthrie only featuring at the tail-end of the match due to a hamstring injury.

Donegal will be expecting to have their leader back to full fitness ahead of the weekend’s all-important clash, and they will be unshackled this weekend as they hope to prevent Cork returning to the showpiece match in Croke Park.

The winners will play either Dublin or Galway who go head-to-head in the second semi-final at 4.30pm on Saturday, with the Dubs aiming to retain their All-Ireland crown this year.

In a rematch of the 2004 final, Galway will be seeking to replicate their victory 14 years ago, and reach their first final since 2005 in the process.

The TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies’ Football Final takes place on Sunday 16 September.

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