Leahy's ladies looking to make league final

Ladies Football: National Football League

Mayo's Tamara O'Connor is one of a number of players who have been given a chance to shine during the league, by manager Peter Leahy. Photo: Sportsfile.

Mayo's Tamara O'Connor is one of a number of players who have been given a chance to shine during the league, by manager Peter Leahy. Photo: Sportsfile.

Mayo manager Peter Leahy cannot be accused of not trawling far and wide to give players an opportunity to stake their claim for a spot in his side for the championship this summer.

During the seven league games his side have played to date, he has used 32 different players across the seven games with 29 players getting at least one start in that run.

Five players started all seven of their division one ties, those were captain Sarah Tierney, Doireann Hughes, Aileen Gilroy, Sinead Cafferkey, and Grace Kelly. Two more players - Orla Conlon and Saoirse Ludden played a part in all seven games. Clodagh McManamon and Fiona McHale both played in six games to date.

Leahy and his team have done brilliantly well to navigate their way through the league stages to make the final four, winning four of their games — and doing so without Cora Staunton, who is due back in Ireland this week after her AFL adventure this spring, and other experienced heads like Yvonne Byrne and Martha Carter.

The Westmeath native has not been afraid to let some not so familiar faces stake a claim with the likes of Tamara O'Connor making three appearances, and Elaine Murphy, Roisin Flynn, and Sarah Mulvihill making four appearances each so far this season.

Hitting the target

Mayo scored 17-69 to date in the league, that tally was given a massive boost in their final two games where they scored 5-14 and 6-11 against Donegal and Monaghan respectively.

In total 14 players registered scores for Mayo in the league to date with 10 different players finding the back of the net. The top scorer for Leahy's side is Sarah Rowe - with the Kilmoremoy girl bagging 4-13 in the four games she has played since she returned to county action from injury against Dublin at the end of February. Rowe bagged 0-4 against Dublin, 0-3 against Cork, 1-2 against Donegal before she scored an impressive 3-4 against Monaghan in Mayo's last league game.

The trio of Niamh Kelly, Sinead Cafferkey, and Grace Kelly have scored in all of Mayo's seven games to date, with Niamh Kelly hitting 2-12, Sinead Cafferkey bagging 4-7, and Grace Kelly finishing off with 1-22 from the seven games.

Bottling up Cork

On Sunday, Leahy's charges will travel to Birr to take on Cork in the division one league semi-final at 3pm. The sides met in a classic All Ireland semi-final last year where Mayo ended the Rebels' run of All Ireland victories.

More recently the sides met in a tight league encounter in Mallow - where Cork edged Mayo on a scoreline of 1-12 to 2-8. Mayo led the game by 1-4 to 0-6 at the short whistle with Sinead Cafferkey bagging the first half goal, but the Rebels outscored Mayo by 1-6 to 1-4 with Shauna Howley bagging a late, late, goal to cut the gap to a single point, but Cork held on to seal the three vital league points.

The other semi-final is the meeting of Dublin and Galway in Kinnegad, and should Mayo get over Cork they will be not be short of motivation against either of the other semi-finalists come the final.


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