MAYO LGFA (Preview): MAYO vs DUBLIN (Sunday, 4pm Parnell Park) 

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27 August 2016; Referee Brendan Rice with team captains Noelle Healy of Dublin and Sarah Tierney of Mayo prior to the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final game between Dublin and Mayo at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

It’s a rematch that has caught the imagination but for Mayo, it’s an opportunity to gain national silverware after last year’s disappointing All-Ireland final loss to Dublin. 

The Green and Red conceded four goals to the Metropolitians last September and when the teams met in February in Castlebar, Oonagh Whyte added another two green flags for Mick Bohan’s team in a 2-8 to 0-12 victory.

Mayo took time to fully settle into the 2018 National Ladies Football League having also slipped up against Cork.  But they banished that reversal in the semi-final beating the Rebelettes in knock out action for the second consecutive time after the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final.

The challenge awaiting Peter Leahy’s team is massive as Dublin have only suffered one defeat since winning the Brendan Martin Cup (to Galway in March) but they also reversed that loss in the league’s penultimate stage.

Substitute Nicole Owens grabbed a winning goal as they ran out 2-8 to 2-7 winners against the Tribeswomen having trailed for much of the contest.  And they go in search of a first ever league victory with 12 of the team that started last year’s All-Ireland final.

Siobhan McGrath and Deirdre Murphy are in the defence while Whyte starts in attack as they chase their own personal double before attention turns to Westmeath in their provincial final.

Leinster and Connacht are tied together for the 2018 championship meaning these teams can’t meet in the All-Ireland final.  And if one slips up in their opening game, they’ll be in the same group for the round-robin format.

Mayo are without Cora Staunton, Martha Carter and Yvonne Byrne.  Carter is back training while Staunton and Byrne’s futures will be decided after the league.  But they will start 10 from the All-Ireland plus Emma Lowther, Danielle Caldwell, Clodagh McManamon, Shauna Howley and Sinead Cafferky.

Cafferky, Sarah Rowe and Grace Kelly will be their key attackers as they look to get a foothold on the game.  They’ve shown an ability to hit high targets getting 6-11 against Monaghan before adding 1-20 in the semi-final with Cork.  But their undoing has been conceding goals to Dublin’s rampant forwards.

Along with Owens and Whyte, Noelle Healy is Dublin’s most dangerous attacker and her battle with Sarah Tierney will be crucial.  Also, the deployment of regular half back Rachel Kearns to between the sticks is intriguing.

Both teams reversed previous losses to triumph in their respective semi-finals.  And Mayo might just find a way to get one over Dublin leading into the summer.

Verdict: Mayo 

Mayo – Rachel Kearns; Emma Lowther, Sarah Tierney, Doireann Hughes; Marie Corbett, Danielle Caldwell, Fiona Doherty; Clodagh McManamon, Aileen Gilroy; Fiona McHale, Shauna Howley, Sinéad Cafferky; Niamh Kelly, Sarah Rowe, Grace Kelly.

Dublin – Ciara Trant; Martha Byrne, Deirdre Murphy, Leah Caffrey; Siobhán McGrath, Sinéad Goldrick, Niamh Collins; Lauren Magee, Olwen Carey; Nicole Owens, Niamh McEvoy, Lyndsey Davey; Oonagh Whyte, Noelle Healy, Sinéad Aherne.