FIXTURES

Saturday

Lidl NFL Division 1 final – Cork v Dublin, Croke Park, 7.30pm
Lidl NFL Division 2 final – Kerry v Meath, Croke Park, 5pm

Sunday

Lidl NFL Division 3 final – Laois v Kildare, Baltinglass, 4pm
Lidl NFL Division 4 final – Leitrim v Louth, Clones, 2pm

TV

TG4 will show the Saturday games live

RADIO

Updates on Saturday Sport and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1

ONLINE

Sunday's games will be shown on Spórt TG4 YouTube

WEATHER

Saturday will be a mix of cloudy and sunny spells. Scattered showers will develop but becoming largely dry and sunny by the evening. Highest temperatures of 14 to 16 degrees in light to moderate northeasterly breezes.

Sunday is forecast to be largely dry with cloud building up during the morning mixed with some sunshine. A few well scattered showers will likely develop. Highest temperatures of 16 to 20 degrees generally, possibly reaching 21 degrees in the south, but a little cooler in the far north and northwest. Light to moderate northerly breezes.


Captains Sinead Aherne of Dublin (r) and Martina O'Brien of Cork

Cork v Dublin

Lucky 13 for Cork – or a second title for Dublin?

All will be revealed on Saturday evening at Croke Park when the big city rivals lock horns in the Division 1 final.

It's a recent rivalry that has captured the imagination of Ladies Football fans – and another big-day meeting between two excellent sides is a mouth-watering prospect.

Just over six months since they met here at Croke Park in the TG4 All-Ireland Senior decider, Cork and Dublin are back for another shot at silverware.

Dublin ran out winners on that occasion but it was another intriguing battle that was in the balance for long spells, with a powerful second half performance from the Sky Blues proving good enough for a fourth successive All-Ireland title.

Where once it was Cork calling the shots when these counties met, now it’s Dublin with the upper hand.

When they clashed in the group stages at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, it was a nip and tuck affair but Dublin prevailed by a point from a thrilling encounter, on a 3-15 to 4-11 scoreline.

Dublin’s strength in depth proved crucial on that occasion, as former Ireland rugby international Hannah Tyrrell, back with the county team for the first time since 2014, landed 2-7.

In the second half, the likes of Lauren Magee, captain Sinead Aherne and Niamh McEvoy came off the bench to aid the Dublin cause and bring know-how and experience to the table.

That’s not to say that Cork are lacking in the squad stakes. Looking back on that evening, they had Orlagh Farmer, Eimear Meaney, Emma Spillane and Brid O’Sullivan among the subs that came on.

These are two teams with so many options to call upon – and the respective managers, Dublin’s Mick Bohan and Cork’s Ephie Fitzgerald, know so much about their opponents.

Cork and Dublin met in three successive All-Ireland Finals from 2014-2016 – and Cork won each of them, having also tasted victory in the 2009 decider.

2018 marked a shift in the rivalry – Dublin finally getting one over on Cork, and in an All-Ireland final.

That year, Dublin had also lifted the Division 1 title for the one and only time in the county’s history, when they defeated Mayo.

Fast forward to the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final – and victory for Dublin again. Last December, Sky Blue ribbons adorned the Brendan Martin Cup and where once Dublin were the hunters, they’re now very much the hunted.

Cork did get the better of Dublin a classic league semi-final in 2019 but they’ll want to scalp them on a bigger day – and Croke Park provides the latest opportunity.

Cork: M O’Brien (capt.); S Kelly, R Phelan, E Meaney; E O’Shea, A Hutchings, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan, H Looney; E Spillane, B O’Sullivan, O Finn; S O’Leary, C O’Sullivan, L Coppinger.

Dublin: A Sheils; M Byrne, N Collins, H Leahy; L Caffrey, O Carey, L Magee; S McGrath, J Dunne; H Tyrrell, L Davey, S Killeen; S Aherne (capt.), N Hetherton, C O’Connor.


Captains Aislinn Desmond of Kerry (l) and Shauna Ennis of Meath

Kerry v Meath

While many neutral observers will take a keen interest in the Division 1 final, they should also train their eyes on the Division 2 curtain-raiser.

Kerry and Meath are two teams brimming with talent – and with promotion to the top flight on their minds.

Kerry dropped down from Division 1 when they suffered relegation in 2018 while Meath have adapted brilliantly to the second tier, having been crowned Division 3 champions in 2019.

The Royals, who won the All-Ireland Intermediate title at Croke Park last December, were going great guns in the 2020 League before Covid intervened.

But under the astute guidance of Eamonn Murray, Meath are determined to finish what they’ve started, and victory here would see them promoted for a second successive 'full’ season.

Kerry, of course, have ambitions of their own in that regard.

Pride was dented three years ago when the Kingdom slumped into Division 2 but double-act Declan Quill and Darragh Long are shrewd operators and they’ve put together a united and hungry squad.

Kerry won by six points when the sides met in the group stages of the competition – but this one could be much closer.

Meath: M McGuirk; E Troy, M.K. Lynch, K Newe; A Leahy, A Cleary, O Byrne; V Wall, M O’Shaughnessy; S Ennis (capt.), S Grimes, N O’Sullivan, S Melia, E Duggan, B Lynch.

Kerry: C Butler; J O'Sullivan, A Desmond (capt.), C Murphy; A O’Connell, K Cronin, C Lynch; L Scanlon, N Carmody; L Galvin, E Dineen, A Galvin; N Ní Chonchúir, H O’Donoghue, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.


Captains Laura Nerney of Laois (r) and Grace Clifford of Kildare

Laois v Kildare

Local rivalry is at stake and there's also a Division 2 slot in the National Football League up for grabs when Kildare and Laois lock horns.

They met in the opening round – Laois running out three-point winners on that occasion – and another close encounter is anticipated in Baltinglass on Sunday.

Laois were in all sorts of League trouble in 2019 – relegated from Division 2 and without a single point from a forgettable campaign.

But now they’re just 60 minutes away from a possible return to the second tier – and with the wind in their sails following an impressive semi-final victory over Roscommon.

Laois have attackers Mo Nerney and Erone Fitzpatrick in brilliant form but Kildare have plenty of scoring threat of their own – with Neasa Dooley and Hazel McLoughlin scoring the crucial goals in their semi-final victory over Sligo.

These are two neighbouring counties with talented players and rich traditions but only one can earn silverware and promotion.

Kildare: D McGinn; C Sullivan, L Lenehan, M Doherty; L Murtagh, L Gilbert, H McLoughlin; S O’Sullivan, G Kenneally; C Wheeler, L Curran, G Clifford (capt.); E Dowling, N Dooley, A Rattigan.

Laois: E Barry; C Dunne, A Potts, A Kelly; R Williams, E Healy, L Nerney (capt.); F Dooley, J Moore; A Healy, E Galvin, E Fitzpatrick; M Nerney, S.A. Fitzgerald, L Tarpey.


Captains Clare Owens of Leitrim (r) and Shannen McLaughlin of Louth

Leitrim v Louth

Leitrim struck a psychological blow against Louth in the group stages – winning by eight points – but this one looks like being much closer.

Louth suffered yellow and red card woe on that occasion – and they were without key attacker Kate Flood too.

The Wee County have bounced back impressively since then, scoring big wins over Antrim, Derry and Offaly en route to the Final.

Leitrim followed up that opening day win with further successes against Derry and Antrim, to set up a semi-final against Limerick.

Michelle Guckian, who’s been brilliant to date in the League, led the way with 1-06 on that occasion, while Louth will look to the scoring prowess of Flood, Niamh Rice and Lauren Boyle in the Final.

Leitrim will look to emulate their Division 4 title win of 2010, while Louth are aiming to atone for their 2018 final loss to Wicklow.

Leitrim: M Monaghan; M.A. Maguire, S Tighe, S McCartan; A Quinn, C Owens (capt.), C La Guen; Á Heslin, V Egan; L O’Dowd, M Guckian, E Brun; L Fox, A Clancy, R McHugh.

Louth: U Pearson; E Hand, S Quinn, E Murray; M McMahon, S McLaughlin (capt.), C Nolan; Á Breen, N Rice; A Russell, K Flood, R Carr; L Collins, L Boyle, D McKenna.


Follow all the championship matches this weekend with our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app. Watch Down v Donegal and Clare v Waterford live on RTÉ One (from 12.55pm) and see highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game at 9.30pm on RTÉ One. Listen to live and exclusive national radio commentaries on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday and Sunday Sport.