FOOTBALL: LIDL NFL Round 1 previews: 15 LIVE games on the agenda as 2021 National Leagues get underway
Compiled by Jackie Cahill
THE 2021 Lidl Ladies National Football League gets underway this weekend – with 15 LIVE games on the agenda.
The TG4 cameras will be at Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the Friday night clash between Munster rivals Cork and Tipperary (7.30pm) – who are also set to meet in the TG4 All-Ireland Championship – and at Elvery’s MacHale Park in Castlebar on Saturday (7.30pm) for the Connacht derby between Mayo and Galway.
There are two Sunday fixtures in Division 1 – with TG4 All-Ireland Senior champions Dublin meeting Waterford in a pre-championship dress rehearsal (Parnell Park, 2pm), while Donegal entertain Westmeath in Ballybofey (2pm).
The 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Champions Meath get their Lidl NFL Division 2 campaign underway with a home tie against Kerry on Sunday (Páirc Tailteann, 3pm), while Junior winners Fermanagh begin with a trip to Roscommon in Division 3 (2pm).
All of Sunday’s 13 fixtures can be viewed for free at home and around the world by accessing the LGFA and Lidl’s new dedicated National League portal: https://page.inplayer.com/lidlnfl/
Lidl Ladies National Football League 2021 – Round 1 fixtures
All games at 2pm unless stated
Friday May 21
Division 1B – Round 1
Cork v Tipperary, 7.30pm, Pairc Uí Chaoimh – Live on TG4
Cork have home advantage for a championship dress rehearsal at Páirc Uí Chaoimh – as the TG4 cameras arrive for what should be a Friday night cracker between the Munster rivals.
Visitors Tipperary have a new manager in the form of 1991 All-Ireland SHC winning captain Declan Carr – and a new captain in Aishling Moloney, who takes over from now retired Samantha Lambert.
Cork line out with nine TG4 All-Ireland Final survivors from the 2020 loss to Dublin – and a new skipper, too, in goalkeeper Martina O’Brien.
As the 2020 Lidl National League wasn’t concluded, Cork begin the 2021 campaign as holders, having won the Division 1 crown in 2019.
Cork (v Tipperary): M O’Brien (capt.); S Kelly, R Phelan, E Spillane; E O’Shea, A Kelleher, M Duggan; M O’Callaghan, S Hayes; O Finn, C O’Sullivan, H Looney; S O’Leary, B O’Sullivan, E Cleary.
Tipperary (v Cork): L Fitzpatrick; L Spillane, M Curley, E Cronin; R Daly, C Kennedy, E Kelly; A.R. Kennedy, E Fitzpatrick; E Carroll, E Morrissey, A Moloney (capt.); C O’Dwyer, A Delaney, M Creedon.
Saturday May 22
Division 1A – Round 1
Mayo v Galway, 7.30pm, Elvery’s MacHale Park, Castlebar – Live on TG4
Vastly-experienced midfielder Fiona McHale is one of five returning Carnacon players to the Mayo panel for this Lidl NFL Division 1 opener against Connacht rivals Galway.
McHale gets the nod at midfield for the Elvery’s MacHale Park clash – with Sadhbh Larkin, Marie Corbett, Amy Dowling and Saoirse Walsh from Carnacon on the bench.
New manager Michael Moyles will be hoping to get off to a positive start against Galway, who also have a new boss in Gerry Fahy.
An intriguing encounter lies in store – and it should be one to savour in front of the TG4 cameras.
Mairead Seoighe captains Galway, with Éilis Ronayne leading the hosts into battle.
Galway (v Mayo): D Gower; S Brennan, S Lynch, S Molloy; K Geraghty, N Ward, C Cooney; A Davoren, M Glynn; O Divilly, M Seoighe (capt.), L Coen; E Noone, A Trill, K Slevin.
Mayo (v Galway): L Brennan; O Conlon, K Sullivan, T O’Connor; E Ronayne (capt.), C McManamon, E Brennan; F McHale, M McHale; N Kelly, S Howley, S Cafferky; M Reilly, D Doherty, L Cafferky.
Sunday May 23
Division 1A – Round 1
Donegal v Westmeath, 1pm, Sean MacCumhaills, Ballybofey
Donegal can consider themselves unfortunate not to have made the knockout stages of the 2020 Championship.
They gave Dublin a real run for their money, before enjoying a comfortable victory over Waterford.
There’s undoubted talent in the Donegal ranks while Westmeath will be hoping to erase some of the memories of their Intermediate Final loss to Meath in December.
Westmeath have flirted with relegation in recent times and they need to show good form to avoid another basement battle.
Donegal (v Westmeath): A McColgan; N Carr, E McGinley, E Gallagher; A.M. Logue, M Ryan, A Boyle Carr; K Herron, S Twohig; B McLaughlin, N McLaughlin (capt.), N Boyle; N Hegarty, K Guthrie, G McLaughlin.
Westmeath (v Donegal): S Byrne; N Spellman, J Rogers, E Kelly; R Dillon, A Brady, T Fagan; V Carr, T Dillon; F Claffey (capt.), L Archibold, A Jones; L McCartan, K Hegarty, S Dillon.
Division 1B – Round 1
Dublin v Waterford, Parnell Park
Dublin have won the last four TG4 All-Ireland Senior crowns – but they’d like to improve on their National League record.
The Sky Blues have won the Division 1 title just once – in 2018 – but manager Mick Bohan has used the League as a breeding ground to blood new players, while easing more experienced stars back into action.
There are seven players in Bohan’s starting line-up who lined out against Cork from the start in the 2020 All-Ireland Final – including long-serving stars Siobhan McGrath and captain Sinead Aherne.
Noelle Healy has retired but Dublin have all of the other familiar faces back on board – as Waterford welcome dead-ball specialist Maria Delahunty back into their starting line-up.
For the third successive year, Dublin will also meet Waterford in the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship, after both sides were pitted together in Thursday evening’s draw.
Dublin (v Waterford): A Sheils; O Nolan, L Caffrey, O Carey; M Byrne, A Kane, L Collins; L McGinley, D Murphy; J Dunne, S McGrath, L Davey; N Hetherton, S Killeen, S Aherne (capt.).
Waterford (v Dublin): M Foran; A Mullaney, L Mulcahy, R Casey; C Fennell, K McGrath, M Wall (capt.); C McGrath, E Murray; R Tobin, A Wall, K Hogan; E Fennell, M Delahunty, K Murray.
Division 2A – Round 1
Meath v Kerry, 3pm, Páirc Tailteann
A really interesting game in Division 2 as Meath take on Kerry in Navan.
Meath are the 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate champions, ready for Senior Championship football in 2021, and a team very much on the up.
Kerry are another of the favourites for promotion from Division 2 and this has the makings of a cracker.
Meath: M McGuirk; A Leahy, M.K. Lynch, K Newe; O Lally, N Gallogly, S Ennis (capt.); E Duggan, V Wall; M O’Shaughnessy, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan; E Troy, A Cleary, B Lynch.
Kerry: C Butler; J O’Sullivan, A Desmond (capt.), C Murphy; N Carmody, C Lynch, A O’Connell; L Scanlon, L Galvin; A Galvin, A Murphy, E Dineen; S O’Shea, H O’Donoghue, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Clare v Wexford, Cusack Park, Ennis
Clare and Wexford were struggling in Division 2 of the 2020 Lidl National League before the competition was halted.
In a very strong division, survival will be the name of the game for both counties, with six senior championship teams also in the mix.
Clare will look to make home advantage count against the visitors, who lost five out of five in the 2020 competition.
Clare: A Kenny; Á Keane, A Morrissey, A Reidy; C Harvey (capt.), G Nolan, C O’Leary; C Moloney, C Towey; C McCarthy, C Blake, K Connole; L Griffey, L Griffin, L Roche.
Wexford: K Sludds; C O’Reardon, A Halligan, L Doyle; S Murphy, R Murphy, N Shanahan; C Donnelly, C Banville; D Doyle, C Murray, S Hamilton; A Wilson, A Murphy (capt.), A Neville.
Division 2B – Round 1
Monaghan v Cavan, 12pm, St Tiernach’s Park, Clones
Monaghan and Cavan will get to know each other in League fare before they clash in the championship.
The counties were drawn together in Group A of the TG4 Senior Championship in Thursday evening’s draw – but this weekend is all about getting off to a good League start.
A notable inclusion on the Monaghan team-sheet is 37-year-old Amanda Casey-Finnegan – named for her first taste of inter-county action since a 2015 Championship appearance against Dublin.
Monaghan: E Corrigan; M Monaghan, S Boyd, A McAnespie; N Fahy, A McCarey, A Garland; A Casey-Finnegan, L Garland; L McEnaney, E McCarron (capt.), S Coyle; C Treanor, M Atkinson, C Courtney.
Cavan: E Walsh; R Doonan, M Smith, S Lynch; S Greene, L Fitzpatrick, Z Fay; C Dolan, N Byrd; C Finnegan, L McVeety, A Kiernan; G Sheridan, A Sheridan, A Gilsenan.
Tyrone v Armagh, Healy Park, Omagh
When these counties locked horns in Championship 2020, Armagh enjoyed a comfortable victory.
The Orchard county lit up the campaign and went all the way to a semi-final appearance, where they gave a fine account of themselves against eventual winners Dublin.
Tyrone will be hoping for better in the coming season under new manager Kevin McCrystal, while Armagh line out with 2020 Senior Player of the Year Aimee Mackin looking to bring that form into the new season.
Armagh: A Carr; S Marley, C McCambridge, S Grey; G Ferguson, T Grimes, M Sheridan; A Bellew, C O’Hanlon; N Coleman, N McCoy, L McConville; A Mackin, B Mackin, A Clarke.
Tyrone: K Byrne; E Mulgrew, T McLaughlin (capt.), M Kerr, E Brennan; C Kelly, D Gallagher; A McHugh, E.J. Gervin; N McGirr, N Rafferty, N Hughes; N O’Neill, C McCaffrey, R Devlin.
Division 3A – Round 1
Down v Sligo, 3pm, Teconnaught GAC
Sligo endured a disappointing 2020 season while Down showed that there are green shoots of revival in the Mourne County.
When the 2020 League was stopped, Sligo were rock-bottom of Division 3 with five defeats from five, while Down had won four of their five games.
Sligo will hope for better fortunes under new management, with Down looking to continue on an upward curve.
Down: A Burns; C Cunningham, C Byrne, K White; O Duffy, M Doherty, O Lavery; A Keown, C Fitzpatrick; N McKibbin, J Foy, L Duffy (capt.); A Laverty, N Ferris, K McKay.
Sligo: R Quigley; A Morrisroe, M McNamara, J Mulligan; C Dunne, L Boles, S Regan; N Brennan (capt.), S Reynolds; A Molloy, C Gorman, S Naughton; S Cunney, K Walsh, D McGrath.
Roscommon v Fermanagh, Dr. Hyde Park
Roscommon, 2020 Intermediate semi-finalists, take on Fermanagh, the 2020 TG4 All-Ireland Junior Champions in this League opener.
Roscommon will be among the favourites for promotion while Fermanagh will be confident of holding their own in the third tier.
The Rossies will be looking forward to lining out on the hallowed sod at Dr. Hyde Park – but Fermanagh will provide a stern test.
Roscommon: H Cummins; R Fitzmaurice, S Kenny (capt.), R Wynne; C Beirne, S McVeigh, S Wynne; J Higgins, K Nolan; N McHugh, L Fleming, E Irwin; A O’Connor, R Finan, A Hanly.
Fermanagh: S Murphy; M Flynn, M McGloin, E Keenan; S McQuade, E Murphy, S McCarville; R McDonald, A Flanagan; A Maguire, J Doonan, S McCausland; S Britton, E Smyth, A O’Brien.
Division 3B – Round 1
Laois v Kildare, 5.30pm, MW Hire O’Moore Park
A Leinster derby at MW Hire O’Moore Park in Portlaoise – and a championship dress rehearsal for these sides.
Kildare were flying in Division 3 in 2020 with five wins from five but Laois won the Championship outing between the sides.
That was in contrast to the earlier League form shown by Laois, who had won two out of five matches. There should be little to choose between the neighbours again.
Laois: E Barry; C Dunne, A Potts, A Kelly; S Larkin, E Healy, L Nerney (capt.); F Dooley, L Tarphy; A Healy, A Moran, E Fitzpatrick; M Nerney, S.A. Fitzgerald, A Kirrane.
Kildare: B Dunne; C Sullivan, L Gilbert, M Doherty; L Murtagh, L Lenehan, H McLoughlin; S O’Sullivan, G Kenneally; O Sullivan, L Curran, G Clifford (capt.); E Dowling, N Dooley, R Byrne.
Longford v Wicklow, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park
Wicklow will be looking for a positive start to their 2021 season, after suffering the heartbreak of TG4 All-Ireland Junior Final defeat last December.
In this Leinster derby, Longford have home advantage at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, with skipper Michelle Farrell a player to watch out for in attack.
Wicklow will hope that inside forwards Meadhbh Deeney and Marie Kealy pack their shooting boots.
Longford: R McGrath; K Crawford, L Keegan, A Cosgrove; O Nevin, E O’Brien, C Farrell; N Darcy, G Shannon; E Heaney, C Healy, A Darcy; A McDonnell, M Farrell (capt.), S Shannon.
Wicklow: L Gilbert; E Mulhall, S.J Winders, A Gillen; K Hennessy, A Conroy, L Clarke; N Caffrey, N McGettigan; L Ahern, S Delahunt, S Goetelen; S McGettigan, M Deeney, M Kealy.
Division 4A – Round 1
Leitrim v Louth, Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s
Both counties will operate in the Intermediate grade in the 2021 TG4 All-Ireland Championship but for the next few weeks it’s about the fight for promotion.
Louth were on maximum points in 2020 prior to the Covid-enforced shutdown, with Leitrim moving well, too, with three wins from three games.
These two counties will have a say in the final standings, and will quietly fancy their chances.
Leitrim: M Monaghan; M.A. Maguire, S Tighe, N Higgins; R Rooney, C Owens (capt.), C Tyrrell; A Heslin, V Egan; L O’Dowd, M Guckian, E Brun; S Ward, L Fox, R McHugh.
Louth: U Pearson; S Matthews, S Quinn, E Murray; M McMahon, S McLoughlin (capt.), C Nolan; A Breen, E Byrne; A Russell, K Flood, R Carr; L Collins, L Boyle, D McKenna.
Derry v Antrim, Celtic Park Stadium, Lone Moor Road
An Ulster derby for Derry and Antrim – and they could meet again depending on results before they lock horns in the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship.
These two counties know plenty about each other from previous meetings in recent seasons and they’ll look for better form in the League this year, having struggled prior to shutdown last season.
There’s plenty of talent on both sides – and the familiarity between them should add a real spark.
Derry: C Mackey; D Donnelly, A McGough, O McCloskey; E Doherty, A Frizelle, D Kievlan; C Moran, K Holly; N Brown, B O’Loughlin, A McAlistair; O McGeough, C McGuirk, G Conway (capt.)
Antrim: A McCann; N McIntosh, O Corr, R Hemsworth; S Tennyson, D Connolly, A Tubridy; A McFarland (capt.), C Brown; N Enright, C Carey, E Ferran; A Taggart, M McCurdy, C Taggart.
Division 4B – Round 1
Carlow v Offaly, IT Carlow
Carlow and Offaly are two teams that will feel they’re in with a chance of promotion this season.
They meet on Sunday at IT Carlow in a Leinster derby – with Offaly preparing for Intermediate Championship football, while Carlow will operate in the Junior grade.
Offaly have Mairead Daly, a potent forward, back in their ranks after she worked her way back from long-term knee issues.
Carlow: N Hanley; G Lawler, A Dooley, R Bermingham; A Dowling, E Atkinson, M Dermody; N Forde, C O’Neill; N Kelly, A Gilmartin (capt.), M Kinsella; R Sawyer, C Ní Shé, S Doyle.
Offaly: S Byrne; A Kehoe (capt.), O Whelan, R Ennis; E Corcoran, D Hannon, M Mann; A Gavin Mangan, A Carey; E Maher, R Egan, M Byrne; M Daly, C Sheridan, G Egan.