FOOTBALL: Yoplait O’Connor Cup semi-final previews
Compiled by Jackie Cahill
THE remaining four pieces of silverware in the 2022 Yoplait Ladies HEC Championships will be handed out over the course of Friday and Saturday – with the showpiece Yoplait O’Connor Cup Final down for decision on Saturday afternoon (4pm – live on Spórt TG4 YouTube).
GMIT Mayo, TUS Midwest and DCU Dóchas Éireann landed the HEC, Lagan and Donaghy Cups respectively on Tuesday, and thoughts now turn to the concluding stages of the Yoplait Moynihan, Lynch, Giles and O’Connor Cup competitions.
Three of the four Yoplait O’Connor Cup semi-finalists are previous winners (NUI Galway the exception) – with holders University of Limerick aiming to retain the title they won in 2019.
After a two-year competition absence, the semi-final line-up will see hosts DCU Dóchas Éireann up against UCC on Friday afternoon at DCU St Clare’s, followed by the second semi-final between UL and NUI Galway at the same venue.
The Yoplait Moynihan Cup Final will also be played on Friday, as well as the Yoplait Lynch and Giles semi-finals, before the stage is set for Yoplait Lynch, Giles and O’Connor Cup Finals on Saturday at DCU St Clare’s.
Both Yoplait O’Connor Cup semi-finals and the Yoplait Moynihan, Lynch and Giles Cup Finals will be live-streamed on the LGFA’s Facebook Page: http://bit.ly/2OvUJ2D and on the LGFA’s Official YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2Wg57AJ, while the Yoplait O’Connor Cup Final will be live-streamed on the Spórt TG4 YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8__AWKYAu6Q
Yoplait O’Connor Cup Semi-final Previews:
Friday March 11
DCU Dóchas Éireann v UCC – DCU St Clare’s Grass Pitch 1, 1pm – Ref: S Mulvihill (Kerry)
DCU Dóchas Éireann are the current Division 1 champions and favourites to land the Yoplait O’Connor Cup.
They’re the only unbeaten team in the competition and can call upon a host of inter-county stars in their quest for a fifth title – and first since 2018.
Dublin netminder Abby Shiels is between the sticks for DCU, with Jennifer Duffy a key figure in defence.
Tipperary’s Anna Rose Kennedy is captain, while DCU also have Dublin regulars Jennifer Dunne and Niamh Hetherton around the middle third.
Orlagh Lally is joined by Meath team-mate and TG4 All Star Emma Duggan in the side, while Dublin ace Carla Rowe is another key player and has been showing excellent form to date for her college outfit.
Opponents UCC lost heavily to University of Limerick in the group stages but victories over Queens University Belfast and UCD were good enough to secure progress to the weekend.
UCC are aiming to win the Yoplait O’Connor Cup for the first time since 2012 and they’ll be looking to the likes of young Cork stars Emma Cleary, who’s team captain, Sarah Leahy, Laura O’Mahony, Katie Quirke and Sadhbh O’Leary, while Waterford’s Kelly Ann Hogan is another talented player.
Kerry’s Mary O’Connell is another player to watch out for in a squad where the vast majority are Cork natives, including former Munster Young Player of the Year, Fiona Keating.
A number of the UCC squad have achieved big things at underage level for Cork but this assignment with DCU represents a stiff challenge even for proven winners.
UL v NUI Galway – DCU St Clare’s Grass Pitch 1, 3pm – Ref: M Farrelly (Cavan)
University of Limerick are Yoplait O’Connor Cup holders and recent competition specialists.
2019 marked their 12th competition win and their sixth final in a row.
The 2020 and 2021 competitions were sadly not played due to Covid but UL will still hope to make a seventh straight final – and clinch back-to-back titles.
NUI Galway will be buoyed by the fact that they’ve already beaten UL in the competition this year, and they also achieved a winner-takes-all victory over Queens University Belfast last time out.
With UL already qualified after claiming victories over UCC and UCD, it was down to NUI Galway and Queens for the other semi-final slot on offer.
NUI Galway prevailed and with Cork ace Melissa Duggan tearing it up, they can’t be discounted in the race for the title.
The Noone sisters, Eva and Hannah, are currentaccount.ie All-Ireland Senior club winners with Galway’s Kilkerrin-Clonberne, while Kate Geraghty and Laura Ahearne are among a number of other Galway players with big game experience.
Mayo’s Aoife Geraghty has been in sparkling form for county and college while Lauren McGregor has plenty of inter-county experience in the Waterford colours.
UL were beaten by DCU in the Division 1 Final before Christmas 2021 but when it comes to the O’Connor Cup, they’ll still feature heavily.
Their squad is also laced with inter-county players, including Mayo’s Ciara Needham, Erone Fitzpatrick from Laois and full-back Síofra Ní Chonaill (Clare).
Lynsey Noone will go up against her sisters Eva and Hannah, while Ailish Morrissey is another still basking in the warm afterglow of Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s win.
Kerry pair Fiadhna Tangney and Hannah O’Donoghue both starred in the 2019 O’Connor Cup win and are potentially lethal forwards.
2022 Yoplait Ladies HEC O’Connor Cup Weekend Fixtures
Friday March 11
Yoplait O’Connor Cup semi-final – DCU Dóchas Éireann v UCC, DCU Grass Pitch 1, 1pm – Live on LGFA Facebook & YouTube
Yoplait O’Connor Cup semi-final – UL v NUI Galway, DCU Grass Pitch 1, 3pm – Live on LGFA Facebook & YouTube
Yoplait Lynch Cup semi-final – TUS Midlands v MTU Kerry, DCU St Pat’s Astro, 12pm
Yoplait Lynch Cup semi-final – IT Sligo v St Mary’s Belfast, DCU St Pat’s Astro, 3pm
Yoplait Giles Cup semi-final – DCU Dóchas Éireann (2) v MICL, DCU Grass 2, 12pm
Yoplait Giles Cup semi-final – TU Dublin v Ulster University, DCU Grass 2, 2pm
Yoplait Moynihan Cup Final – LYIT v MTU Cork, DCU Astro, 4pm – Live on LGFA Facebook & YouTube
Saturday March 12
Yoplait Lynch Cup Final – DCU Astro, 12pm – Live on LGFA Facebook & YouTube
Yoplait Giles Cup Final – DCU Grass Pitch 1, 2pm – Live on LGFA Facebook & YouTube
Yoplait O’Connor Cup Final – DCU Grass Pitch 1, 4pm – Live on Spórt TG4 YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8__AWKYAu6Q
Updates from the Yoplait O’Connor Cup weekend will be available on the LGFA’s various social media channels, using the hashtag #AlwaysBelieve, and also check out the Ladies HEC social media channels.