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All you need to know: Women’s football finals

Defending senior champions Dublin put their title on the line against Cork, while intermediate and junior deciders are also down for decision at Croke Park.

SUNDAY 16 SEPTEMBER

TG4 All-Ireland SFC final
Dublin v Cork, 4pm

TG4 All-Ireland IFC final
Meath v Tyrone, 1.45pm

TG4 All-Ireland JFC final
Limerick v Louth, 11.45

ONLINE
Live blog of Dublin v Cork on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 3.30pm.

RADIO
Live commentary on the senior final, Sunday Sport, RTÉ Radio 1, from Brian Carthy and Sharon Courtney, with analysis from Caroline O'Hanlon, Cora Staunton and Niamh Kindlon. Live updates on Meath v Tyrone from Pauric Lodge.

TV
Live coverage of the three finals on TG4 from 11.40am. Highlights on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 from 9.30pm.

WEATHER
Any rain will clear the Dublin area early on Sunday morning to leave a day of bright spells and scattered showers. Afternoon temperatures will range from 16 to 21 degrees in moderating breezes. For more go to met.ie.

Can last year's attendance be surpassed?

The parade before last year's senior final

The 2017 decider saw a record attendance of 46,286 at GAA HQ for the meeting of Dublin and Mayo. A week earlier in the men's final, both counties served up a cracking contest and that no doubt helped to increase interest even more in the battle for the Brendan Martin Cup.

That said, attendances for the women's finals have been steadily increasing since 2012 when just under 17,000 turned up for the triple-bill. The increase between 2016 and '17 was just over 12,000.

LGFA President Marie Hickey is hopeful that Sunday's finals will again attract a sizeable crowd.

"It would be wonderful to get close to last year's mark," she said when speaking to The Examiner.

"Cork have been very busy with the camogie last weekend so I’m sure they will be all getting on the ticket sales this week and we will hopefully see a good response there as well.

"I also think that we have done a lot of work in promoting the finals and promoting the games in clubs throughout the country and not just in participating counties. So we had a larger number of supporters from non-participating counties than ever last year, which was heartening to see."

Dublin aim to lay Cork bogey

Dublin and Cork meet in the final for the fourth time in five years

After winning only their second All-Ireland crown last September, Mick Bohan's Dublin followed that up when winning a first league title last May. They are the form team in the country at the moment, but Cork will be keen to regain top billing as they target fifth consecutive win over the Dubs on final day.

An cuimhin libh 2014? Cé leis a mbeidh an lá Dé Domhnaigh? @CorkLGFA @dublinladiesg @LadiesFootball @lidl_ireland #Properfan
pic.twitter.com/wdbz0Xjjid

— Ladies Football (@LadiesFootball) September 12, 2018

Cast your mind back to the 2014 showdown, a day when Cork came from ten points down to claim the spoils by the bare minimum. In 2016, the Munster side won an 11th All-Ireland in 12 years, but a Carla Rowe point for Dublin that was incorrectly waved wide was the main taking point afterwards.

Hawk-Eye was not operable that day (it will be on Sunday) for the women's game as Cork eventually ran out one-point winners.

Nicole Owens

Dublin, not surprisingly, will be determined to defend their crown, though defeating a side who gave them much heartache in recent seasons will make any victory that bit sweeter. A point picked up on by Dubs forward Nicole Owens, who told RTÉ Sport: "I have lost three finals to them and therein lies the challenge.

"It’s the best two teams who make the final and we strongly believe that if we play to the best of our abilities and follow our game plan that we are the best team in the country."

Ephie Fitzgerald addresses his squad

Cork boss Ephie Fitzgerald has played down talk of a rivalry, sating that it's "media talk".

He added: "Whether Cork have beaten Dublin means nothing; this is a new game. I don't think past results in anyway play a part and an All-Ireland final takes on a life of its own. Sunday’s game is another game.

"We have Ciara O’Sullivan who has eight or nine All-Ireland medals and she is not thinking about anything else other than proper preparation and making sure she is right for the game."

Stats check

Cork have won 11 All-Ireland titles and victory on Sunday will see them head the roll of honour ahead of Kerry.

Dublin are twice winners – 2010, 17

In their five championship outings this year, including the Leinster final, Dublin have amassed 20-66, or an average of 4-13 per game. Of that combined tally, captain Sinéad Aherne has chipped in with 4-24 along the way.

Sinéad Aherne

In six matches, and taking the Munster championship into account, Cork have scored 25-80.

When averaged out, it’s roughly 4-13 per game, and very much in line with what Dublin have been registering.

Cork’s leading scorer is Orla Finn on 1-27, closely followed by a player who’s been coming off the bench to make a big impact.

Saoirse Noonan

Saoirse Noonan, the former minor star, made her senior debut against Kerry in the Munster final, scoring 2-2 in the second half alone, and she’s chipped in with an incredible 6-11 in total.

Skipper Ciara O’Sullivan has also contributed handsomely, landing 6-07 in the 2018 championship.

Teams

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

Dublin: C Trant; M Byrne, S Finnegan, L Caffrey; S Goldrick, S McGrath, N Collins; L Magee, O Carey; C Rowe, N Healy, L Davey; S Aherne (capt.), N McEvoy, N Owens.

Meath v Tyrone

Tyrone captain Neamh Woods and Meath skipper Niamh O'Sullivan

After last year's loss to Tipperary, Tyrone will be determined to go one better when they face a Meath outfit, who are appearing in their first intermediate decider.

The Red Hand stormed through the Ulster championship and All-Ireland qualifiers with ease – but have had two stern tests against Wexford and Sligo in the knockout stages.

A comprehensive semi-final win for the Royals over Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park sees them head to Croker in fine spirits. Their manager Eamonn Murphy keeps faith with the side that started against the Rossies.

Tyrone boss Gerry Moane has opted for three changes in personnel following the Sligo win – as goalkeeper Shannon Lynch, Niamh McGirr and Emma Mulgrew come in for Laura Kane, Aimee Daly and Christiane Hunter.

Meath: M McGuirk; O Duff, O Lally, K Newe; N Gallogly, S Ennis, M Thynne; M O’Shaughnessy, K Byrne; A Cleary, V Wall, S Grimes; M Farrelly, N O’Sullivan (capt.), F O’Neill.

Tyrone: S Lynch; N McGirr, J Barrett, C Conway; S McCarroll, E Mulgrew, E Brennan; N Woods (capt.), E.J. Gervin; Á Canavan, L Quinn, N Hughes; G Rafferty, G Begley, C McCaffrey.

Limerick v Louth

Louth captain Kate Flood with Limerick skipper Cathy Mee

It's a repeat of the 2010 decider where Limerick claimed junior honours. Louth's last success was in 2015.

The Wee County have named an unchanged team following their dramatic semi-final victory over Derry, while Áine McGrath has been handed a start for Limerick, who beat London in their last-four clash, as Caroline Hickey drops to the bench.

Limerick: M Giltenane; K Reidy, S O’Sullivan, A Hartigan; Á McGrath, N Ryan, M O’Shea; L Hanley, C Mee (capt.); C Ní Cheallaigh, R Delee, R Ambrose; O Giltenane, C Davis, M Kavanagh.

Louth: U Pearson; E Murray, S McLoughlin, M McMahon; A Russell, C Nolan, N Rice; Á Breen, K Flood (capt.); L Boyle, B Fleming, J McGuinness; R Carr; E Byrne, S Woods.

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FAI to join potential combined bid to host World Cup

The FAI is set to join up with the English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish FAs in conducting a feasibility review into a potential joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

The development comes on the back of recent positive discussions amongst all parties, according to a statement on the FAI website.

The full statement reads:

"Following recent positive discussions amongst all parties it has been agreed that the Football Association of Ireland will join the English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish FAs in conducting a feasibility review into a potential joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup."

Martin O'Neill's men failed to qualify for the recent World Cup tournament in Russia while Qatar will be the next nation to host the World Cup in 2022, while Canada, Mexico and the USA will host the tournament in 2026.

France claimed their second ever World Cup in Russia during the summer, defeating Croatia 4-2 in one of the most entertaining and action-packed finals for decades.

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Trainer Hanlon to appeal suspended 18-month penalty

Trainer John Hanlon plans to appeal the suspended 18-month penalty handed out by the referrals committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board following a hearing on Wednesday.

A sample taken from the Hanlon-trained Camlann following his victory at the Galway Festival on August 2 was found to contain cobalt, a substance that while found in supplements that contain low levels, is prohibited in a horse on raceday when above an internationally-agreed level.

A statement from the referrals committee said that "the current case in question was serious in nature resulting in a strong argument for the withdrawal of licence from the trainer".

The report from the committee said that in his evidence, Hanlon stated the horse was receiving an oral supplement which contained cobalt and vitamin B12, but that it was not administered to the horse on the day of the race and that he did not know the source of the adverse analytical finding.

Co. Carlow-based Hanlon – best known for his handling of multiple graded-race winner Hidden Cyclone and likewise Luska Lad – immediately signalled his intention to appeal.

He said: "The only comment I'm making is that we're definitely going to appeal. My reason being it was only three over the threshold of a hundred and we've got to appeal."

Camlann was disqualified from the race in question, the Open Gate Pure Brew Handicap, with original runner-up Make It Hurrah promoted to first place.

Having elected to use its powers to suspend the ban for three years, Hanlon was advised that "should he come to the notice of the referrals committee for a similar breach within three years of today's date the 18-month suspension will be activated in addition to any further sanction imposed for the later breach".

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O’Connell has no coaching master plan for the future

Paul O’Connell says he still has no grand plan for his future in coaching – unlike his former Munster and Ireland team mate Ronan O’Gara.

Following a stint in Paris with Racing 92, O’Gara is now working with Super Rugby side Crusaders in New Zealand and says one day he hopes to coach Ireland.

O’Connell is following in his footsteps, taking on a role with Top 14 side Stade Francais in Paris, though his future isn’t mapped out as clearly yet.

"For me to go to Paris, I always wanted to live in France so for me this was a chance to travel, live in an amazing city, immerse myself in coaching and see is this what I want to do while learning a language and meeting some good people," said the former Ireland captain, speaking to RTÉ Radio 2FM’s Game On.

"People don’t seem to believe me when I say there’s no real long-term plan in going to Paris."

O’Connell is working with Stade’s forwards and line-out and his first season has started well with three wins out of four in France.

His family, wife Emily and children Paddy, Lola and Felix, haven’t been able to join him yet as they haven’t been able to find suitable accommodation so he is staying with Mike Prendergast, another Irishman on the club’s coaching staff.

"It’s difficult because there is a lot of apartment-living where the club is. We’ve decided we don’t want to live in an apartment and we’re trying to find a house, which is quite difficult. The family haven’t arrived over yet, but it’s great," he said.

O’Connell agreed to move from Munster to Toulon in 2015, but an injury suffered in that year’s Rugby World Cup ended his playing career and scuppered that deal.

O'Connell puts his arm around O'Gara

So he is grateful for this chance of living in a new culture, though he admits he’s having trouble learning the language – mostly because he doesn’t get enough opportunity to practice it.

"It’s one of the reasons I’m over there, as much as the coaching. I’ve always wanted to learn the language," he said. "It’s one of the reasons I was going to go over to Toulon towards the end of the season.

"The only problem is that English in the chosen language spoken in the coaching room because we have Heyneke Meyer, John McFarland, Peter de Villiers, so many of the staff speak English so I’m probably speaking too much English and it doesn’t help me learn.

"I’m trying to work out as many ways as I can to speak French.

"I do classes in the club, one of the physios in the club, his dad used to work in IBM and is retired and actually teaches refugees French voluntarily and he does lessons with me over the phone.

"I listen to Coffee Break French – Johnny Sexton recommended him to me. I’m trying to hit it as many ways as I can and I’d love after Christmas to be able to coach as much in French as I can.

"I’d say I do about 10 per cent now and Peter de Veilliers translates, or else one of the players translates. It’s difficult, but it is what it is and you just have to roll with it."

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Fennelly: ‘There’s a line now with manager Shefflin’

Michael Fennelly says his relationship with former Kilkenny teammate Henry Shefflin remains the same but that there is 'a line' with Shefflin now managing their club side Ballyhale Shamrocks.

The 10-time All-Ireland winner was appointed to the position last year having retired from inter-county hurling in 2015 after winning an All-Ireland club title with Ballyhale.

Fennelly called time on his Kilkenny career last December but continues to work alongside Shefflin at club level in a slightly different capacity.

"Our relationship is still very similar," said Fennelly at the announcement of the Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor Championship team of the season.

"It's Henry's first year in management and he's doing a good job. He's learning through the whole process and system and what has to be done.

"No doubt I'd say he's been frustrated with the fixtures this year starting in early February in terms of training and playing only one match in April. Our next game wasn't nearly until the start of August. So, that's been a struggle and trying to get our heads around that both players and management.

"Our relationship is probably still the same but there's a line there now. I'm a player, he's a manager, and you have to respect that and I think that's important. I'm coming from a coaching education background as well so I'd be aware of the boundaries and stuff. You have to respect that."

Fennelly continued by saying that there's still a strong sense of honesty between them despite the changes, although the way in which they communicate has altered slightly.

But Fennelly added that he can use his insight in the dressing room to help Shefflin manage his players throughout the season.

"You're not just talking to another player or another person, it's the manager at the end of the day. The dilemma does change a small bit funnily enough. I can still be completely honest with him which is important and Henry would want that in terms of feedback and bits and pieces.

"Sometimes as a manager you mightn't see everything whereas a player is seeing a player in the dressing room and you might be seeing things that a players wouldn't show off to a manager. If they're struggling with form or whatever it may be.

"It [the relationship] changes a small bit but at the end of the day, it's important to have that strong communication lines being active."

He added that adjusting from the inter-county environment to the less intense atmosphere at club level brings its challenges for Sheffllin, but backs the 11-time All-Star to make the transition over time.

"He's very level-headed and I'd say he's learning as the weeks go on to be honest. This whole coaching process takes a couple of years and even at that you'll still be evolving and adapting. And realising that 'that didn't work, I need to change my mindset a bit.'

"Maybe players at a younger age now have other commitments and other interests as well. You have to take that into account. As a coach you have to understand that, if you don't you're going to struggle and you will get frustrated. I think Henry without doubt is learning all that now and seeing what's happening and what's going on.

"He was a very passionate player, a very passionate person about hurling and he probably knows himself that he needs to manage that. With an inter-county set-up you'd have that automatically with most players. With a club set-up, it might be a bit lackadaisy and a bit more chilled out.

"That can be frustrating and I would definitely find that myself, the players or the coach not putting in the effort. I'd be getting frustrated and I'd want that natural commitment.

"It's about knowing yourself and knowing your skills. You have to think outside the box sometimes, what other players are feeling. At the end of the day it is a hobby at club level so you have to take that into account as well."

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Garcia does not feel extra pressure because of pick

Sergio Garcia insists he has nothing to prove ahead of next week's Ryder Cup, despite his controversial wild card selection.

Garcia won the 2017 Masters but has missed the cut in his last five major championship starts, with his only top-10 finish in a strokeplay event since March coming in the French Open at the Ryder Cup venue of Le Golf National.

"I don't need to show anyone," the 38-year-old said ahead of the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.

"The only thing I have to do is go out there and help team Europe, my team-mates and my captain and vice-captains – not only with the game on the golf course but outside, in the team room and everything.

"There are things that are important to have in a team. I think that is one of the reasons why Thomas (Bjorn, European captain) picked me, not only because of the game he knows I can play but what I can bring outside of the golf course into the team room and stuff."

Garcia has not competed since the middle of August, a tie for 24th in the Wyndham Championship proving insufficient to qualify for the play-offs via the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings.

"I told Thomas, 'If you end up picking me, I'll make sure that I play something coming into the Ryder Cup'," added Garcia, who needs three points in Paris to overtake Nick Faldo as the top European points scorer in Ryder Cup history.

"I didn't want to be without playing for four or five weeks coming into such a big and amazing event. Portugal seemed like a good fit and I'm happy that I decided to come here. Obviously the course is nice, it's going to be a good test and I'm excited for it.

"I took a couple of weeks off and started practising again. The game feels pretty good. Obviously there are some things here and there that I would love to do a little bit better and that's what I'm working on. The game overall feels good.

"It's just a matter of hopefully getting some good momentum, start building on that. If I can do that then I can gain some confidence and some good rhythm, that's the goal this week.

"Obviously getting a win would be amazing, you can't beat confidence. That would be nice but more than anything I just want to get some rhythm, get some competition juices flowing, that's one of the main reasons that I wanted to come here."

Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen is the only other member of the Ryder Cup team competing in Vilamoura, a place he knows well.

"It's a place I always like to come back to," Olesen said. "I actually went here earlier this year to train for five days with my coach and caddie. It's a place I've always enjoyed coming to – nice weather, good food.

"I feel like I know the course really well. I haven't particularly performed the last few years here but I still feel like I've played pretty well. Qualifying for the Ryder Cup didn't make a change at all.

"I probably took eight or nine days off without any golf, so obviously started the middle of last week to get back into it and I'm slowly getting back into the rhythm and hopefully can be fully ready on Thursday."

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