Saturday April 22
Lidl NFL Division 1 semi-final
Cork v Dublin, 3.30pm, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, N
McCormack, extra-time if necessary
Cork and Dublin renew their rivalry this weekend in the Lidl Division 1 National Football League semi final where a cracking contest is expected in Nowlan Park.
Cork, under Ephie Fitzgerald, have continued to introduce new names into the panel and this weekend several of those players are being given a chance to impress in knock out football.
Emma Spillane, Melissa Duggan and Niamh Cotter are amongst the new names with players like Jess O’Shea and Bríd O’Sullivan being given a chance to stake a claim for a more regular starting spot having been on the periphery in recent years.
Bríd Stack makes her return to the starting line up as she lines out at centre-back and she is joined by fellow multi All-Ireland winner Annie Walsh, who also makes her return.
What looks most impressive about Cork is their list of substitutes including Orlagh Farmer, Doireann O’Sullivan, Ashling Hutchings, Rhona Ní Bhuachalla and Grace Kearney amongst others.
Saturday presents another opportunity for Dublin to finally get the victory that they have chased for so long against their great rivals - Cork have beaten them in the last three All-Ireland deciders.
Dublin have flattered to deceive throughout the League but they find themselves in a semi-final with an opportunity to set out their stall for the rest of the season.
Noelle Healy has reverted back to her more familiar role at centre-forward from where she will spearhead the attack and it does look like a particularly potent attacking unit.
The inside-forward line of Sinead Aherne, Niamh McEvoy and Siobhan Woods are more than capable of running up a match-winning score.
Much like Cork there are some real game changers on the Dublin bench as Lyndsey Davey, Nicole Owens and Sarah McCaffrey are all being held in reserve whilst long-term injury victim Sinead Goldrick returns to take her place as a substitute.
Dublin will be determined to get the victory that they so desperately want after so many close calls against Cork but, as always, the Rebellettes will be confident of victory and with their extra strength-in-depth they will feel like they can answer the questions that Dublin will inevitably ask.
Sunday April 23
Lidl NFL Division 1 semi-final
Donegal v Galway, 2.00pm, Markievicz Park, Sligo, G Carmody, extra-time if necessary
Donegal and Galway have a great rivalry in recent times but it has been the Donegal girls that have enjoyed the upper hand of late.
It was Donegal that knocked Galway out of the TG4 Championship last season and they also enjoyed victory in the League stages earlier this year.
Donegal topped the table after the League stages after putting together a string of extremely impressive performances culminating in their final-round defeat of Mayo to secure first place.
Much of their success has been built on a strong defence lead ably by Ciara Hegarty.
Their midfield partnership of Glenfin pair, Katie Herron and Karen Guthrie, is arguably the best around whilst their dynamic duo in the full-forward line of Geraldine McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle are two of the most potent attackers playing the game.
Galway never found a level of consistency throughout their campaign which is why they were left waiting for a favourable result in the delayed League match between Donegal and Mayo before their semi final place was confirmed.
However, now that they are in the semi final they have the potential to go all the way.
Their half-back line of Conneally, Cooney and Burke is very strong but they will look to Olivia Divilly, Megan Glynn and Barbara Hannon to find the improved performances that the Tribes will need.
Róisín Leonard has been their main attacker throughout the season and she will carry much of the attacking threat but with Tracey Leonard back amongst the substitutes there is huge scoring potential in this attack.
Donegal have been the most impressive team in the country throughout the league stages and should they maintain that form they will feel that a second Lidl NFL title in a row is within their grasp.