Ladies look to get off to Tip top start

Ladies Football: National Football League

See you Sunday: Mayo captain Niamh Kelly and Tipperary's Samantha Lambert at the launch of the Lidl Ladies National Football League in Croke Park earlier this week. Photo: Sportsfile

See you Sunday: Mayo captain Niamh Kelly and Tipperary's Samantha Lambert at the launch of the Lidl Ladies National Football League in Croke Park earlier this week. Photo: Sportsfile

A new chapter for the Mayo Ladies senior team will open on Sunday in the Swinford Amenity Park when they host Tipperary in round one of the Ladies National Football League at 2pm.

After a year of turmoil on and off the field - a new look Mayo side will get their season up and running without any of the 12 players who left the panel mid-season last year.

Peter Leahy is once again in charge of the side and he has put together a panel of 40 players for this league campaign, which will feature only four of the players who lined out in the 2017 All Ireland final against Dublin - Fiona Doherty, Rachel Kearns and Kelly sisters Grace and Niamh, who will captain the team this year. There are three other players from that team who will come back into the reckoning later on this year, Aisling Tarpey, Aileen Gilroy (who is out recovering from a long term injury ) and Sarah Rowe, who is currently in Australia playing Australian rules for Collingwood.

Heading into a tough division one campaign where they will face road games against Donegal, Dublin (as part of a double header in Croke Park with the men's team ), Westmeath and Monaghan and home ties against newly promoted Tipperary this Sunday, Galway (as part of a double header with the men's team ) and Cork, staying in division one will be their priority for the early part of the year, before the build up to their Connacht final against Galway in the summer.

Speaking in the build-up to the league last month, Leahy said he was excited about what was coming down the track saying: "Every new season brings new challenges, but we’re very excited about our new squad. To have players from 16 clubs involved is fantastic for football in the county. When I got involved with the team in the run-up to the All-Ireland final in 2017 there was only a small number of clubs involved and that wasn’t sustainable in the long run.

"I’m not sure many counties have 16 clubs involved in their squads and it’s a great sign of the positive atmosphere in Mayo at the moment. Players from all across the county know that they have the chance to come and thrive with the county team now and that’s the way it should be."

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