Local derby for Leahy's ladies

Ladies Football: National Football League

Eyes on the target: Niamh Kelly takes aim at the posts against Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile.

Eyes on the target: Niamh Kelly takes aim at the posts against Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile.

After running Dublin so close in a thriller last Saturday evening, most people would have expected Mayo manager Peter Leahy to put his trust in the same 15 that took to the field in that brilliant encounter.

However, the Mayo Ladies manager was early out the gate this week to announce his starting 15 for Saturday night's clash with local rivals Galway in MacHale Park. He has made five changes to the starting 15 with three players making their first starts for the county.

Amy Roddy will come in at centre-half forward, Ella Brennan at wing back and Nicola Meehan at corner back - while goalkeeper Sorcha Murphy will get another run between the posts and Ciara Whyte will join an all new-look half back line - that will be anchored by Danielle Caldwell, who put in a top-class performance against Dublin at corner back, moving into the number six shirt.

Mayo have one win under their belts from their opening three games, defeating Tipperary in round one, before going down to Donegal on the road in round two and last weekend's loss to All Ireland champions Dublin in Croke Park.

The performance they put in against the Dubs is something that they can and will take quite a lot from, having led them from the start of the game right up to five minutes before the end, when Dublin's greater experience and strength and depth off the bench paid dividends down the home straight.

The style of play that Mayo utilised, especially in the first half, was thrilling and exciting, with goalkeeper Laura Brennan quick and accurate off the restarts and the ball worked with power, pace and directness into their attacking line with Rachel Kearns, Fiona Doherty and Grace Kelly having the Dublin defence in sixes and sevens and bagging Mayo three first half goals.

Doherty's in particular was a top class finish, beating two players on the run before firing the ball into the back of the net from the side she came from. Kearns grabbed two goals - the second of them coming after she showed great awareness to gather a 13 meter free she took that came back off the post to hammer it home before the Dublin defence had time to reset themselves.

Galway come to town with three wins from three in their back pockets, having beaten Cork, Monaghan and most recently Westmeath last weekend. Tim Rabbitte has taken over the Galway hot seat this year from Stephen Glennon and there looks to have been a seamless transition to date, with Roisin Leonard, Tracey Leonard and Aoife Thompson all bagging goals against the midlanders last weekend as they drove on to a 3-11 to 2-5.

But Mayo will go into this game chock full of confidence after their showing last weekend and will be keen to get one over on their neighbours before they meet again in the championship in Summer time.

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