Galway Ladies, the reigning provincial champions under the guidance of Stephen Glennon, take on their oldest rivals Mayo in an eagerly anticipated clash at McHale Park on Sunday (4pm ).
Glennon may be happy Sunday’s opponents have been installed as pre-match favourites based on their recent runs to the All-Ireland and National League finals, but he hopes his new-look panel will have learned some lessons from their recent league games.
Mayo made it to the NFL final where they lost to Dublin 3-15 to 1-10, but Galway can take great heart, having fallen to the title winners in the semi-final by a single point after an earlier win in round six.
En route to the semi-finals, they also enjoyed wins over Westmeath, Kerry and Monaghan, while Mayo edged their encounter in round three by 2-7 to 1-7 in a game Galway failed to start well.
"In the first 25 minutes, Mayo ran us ragged, and if we are not on the money, we will be chasing shadows. That is a fact, " Glennon says.
Hard to beat
Keen to applaud the extensive backroom and support staff behind the scenes, the Galway manager is happy with his players' response to some setbacks in the league, and says he is now heading into the Connacht final this weekend in a positive frame of mind.
"Sunday will be a big challenge, but the girls have worked really hard over the past few months and the mood in our camp is very good," he says.
"I think it will be one of the best Connacht finals in years, two of the top five teams in the country in the provincial final.
"We have a big management team and everyone has really put their shoulder to the wheel so that we can have a good championship run. We can't wait to get out on the field, and if the girls perform to their potential, we will be a very hard team to beat.
"No more than the men's game, there is great rivalry between us. It could go either way, local derbies are like that and I expect it will be much the same on Sunday.
"Coming into this one both teams are confident, we've had decent campaigns in the league, so not too many excuses, but it would be a good one to win."
Glennon's main injury concern is Louise Ward, who will tog out, but he will not risk the player if she is not ready.
"Louise has worked really hard to put herself back into the frame for selection or some game time. Sunday might come too soon for her, and we won't be putting pressure on her. However, we are delighted to see the progress she is making and hopefully she will be soon back to match fitness."
There have been changes in Mayo with Peter Leahy having taken over from Frank Browne as manager, and the former team trainer guided his team to the division one final where they found Dublin - the current All-Ireland champions - too much of a hurdle.
However one of the most famous names in ladies' football, Cora Staunton, will be available for Mayo, and the 36-year-old Cornacon star is set to line out in her 21st successive championship campaign before returning to Australia in November where she will play for a second season with the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
Glennon knows Staunton must be curtailed if Galway are to have any chance.
"She will spearhead the attack, so on the day we will look to some ways to stop her."
McDonagh looking forward
Galway's young star Áine McDonagh is looking forward to taking on Mayo on Sunday.
The Moycullen player who is only 21, was one of Galway's top performers during the league, and the former Ireland underage basketball star is keen to continue that rich vein of form.
"We are really looking forward to Sunday. It is a really big deal for us to try to get a second provincial title. We have trained very hard over the past few weeks and we believe we are really coming into good form at the right time of the year.
"I was very young coming into the panel last year, but I feel I am improving all the time and I am really looking forward to challenging myself during the upcoming championship and seeing how I can progress."
McDonagh who is 6' 1" in height and who will be heading to UCD in September, normally lines out at wing-forward or midfield, and she does not mind which position she plays once she sees plenty of action.
Positive about the current set-up at senior level, she says the management team has provided all the necessary tools to win.
"Stephen [Glennon] and the entire management team have been incredible. They have really worked hard and have given us top class guidance over the past two years and we can't really ask for any more.
"They have given us all the tools, and it is up to us now to go out and produce a big performance.
"With the quality of the girls available to our squad, I definitely think we can go out on Sunday and do that. Mayo are a top quality side and got to this year's league final and they will be a really tough challenge on Sunday. However, if we are going to progress and improve, then games like Sunday is how we will do so.
"It will be tough to win, but we have a lot of belief in our squad, and that is what we will be going to Castlebar to try to do."