Ladies still have it all to do on Saturday

Ladies Football: All Ireland Senior Football Championship

On the ball: Rachel Kearns. Photo: Sportsfile

On the ball: Rachel Kearns. Photo: Sportsfile

There is very little room for error for the Mayo Ladies senior footballers tomorrow afternoon when they take on Donegal in group four of the All Ireland Senior Football Championship in Tullamore.

After Mayo defeated Tyrone in Healy Park in the opening round of the group a fortnight ago, it looked like tomorrow's clash with Ulster champions Tyrone would be a straight shoot-out between the two sides to see who finished top of the three-team group.

However, Tyrone did not read the script and turned over Donegal in one of the surprise results in the championship last weekend - really throwing the cat-among-the-pigeons in the outcome of the group.

There are two places in the last eight up for grabs in this group. At present Mayo sit on top of the standings with three points on the board, following their win over Tyrone a fortnight ago, and have scoring difference of +3; Tyrone are in second place also on three points but have played their two games and have a score difference of 0; while Donegal, who were the favourites to top the group, sit bottom with zero points and a scoring difference of -3.

What that means is that a win or a draw will send Mayo into the last eight while a loss of less than three points would also see them go through, whereas a defeat of more than three points would see them exit the championship. But if Donegal beat Mayo by exactly three points on Saturday, it will see all three teams end the group with the exact same number of points and their scoring difference also level - meaning play-off games would go to a play-off situation.

So it is all to play for on Saturday afternoon.

Donegal impressed in the Ulster championship - they had four points to spare over Tyrone in the first round of the Ulster championship, they followed that up with a semi-final win over Cavan on a scoreline of 0-24 to 2-13 and then put five goals past Armagh in a 5-12 to 1-9 victory in the Ulster final.

In the league this year, Donegal saw off Mayo by six points on a score of 3-10 to 2-7 and went on to make it to the league semi-finals, where Galway ended their run in that competition with a six point victory.

Mayo bounced straight back from their disappointing Connacht final replay defeat to Galway with a hard fought win over Tyrone a fortnight ago in Healy Park - not for the first time this season Rachel Kearns proved to be the key player for Peter Leahy's side, with Kearns bagging 2-3 of Mayo's tally of 3-14 on the day. Leahy will also have been pleased to see his other attacking threats do well on the scoreboard - with Grace Kelly scoring 1-3 and Sarah Rowe also kicking four points while four other players, Emma Needham, Natasha Gaughan, Sinead Cafferkey and Lisa Cafferkey also got on the scoreboard for Mayo that day.

Donegal will be another serious examination for Mayo with the likes of Karen Guthire, Amy Boyle and the McLaughlin sisters Niamh and Geraldine all top quality players in a Donegal side that have become one of the top sides in the game over the past few years.

The game throws in at 1.30pm in Tullamore and is live on TG4 if you can't make it to the game.


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