Ladies get season up and running as they welcome Donegal

Ladies Football: National Football League

Back on the road: Mayo Ladies manager Peter Leahy will put his side back into competitive action for the first time this year on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

Back on the road: Mayo Ladies manager Peter Leahy will put his side back into competitive action for the first time this year on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

The Mayo Ladies senior footballers will get their 2020 competitive season up and running on Sunday afternoon when they welcome Donegal to Swinford Amenity Park at 2.30pm.

The last time the two sides met was in the the group stages of the All Ireland championship last July, in Tullamore, when Mayo ran out 1-22 to 3-12 winners to book their place in the All Ireland quarter-finals, however it will be a much different looking Mayo side who take to the field against Donegal this weekend.

Three of Mayo's starting six forwards from that game are not available for selection, as they have signed up to play in Australia in the third instalment of the AFLW championship.

Sarah Rowe, who hit nine points in that game, will be playing with Collingwood for the second year in a row, while sisters Niamh and Grace Kelly, who combined for 0-9 in that win, will be lining out with West Coast Eagles.

A fourth member of Mayo manager Peter Leahy's side from last year's All Ireland semi-final loss to Galway - Aileen Gilroy - will also be playing Aussie Rules this Spring with North Melbourne.

On Sunday, Mayo will be looking to get their season off to a winning start, last year Mayo finished in fifth place in the table - but were eight points behind their opponents who finished in fourth place, with Mayo winning two and drawing one of their seven games.

Mayo will have two home games on the bounce at the start of this year's league and will follow up this Sunday's game with the visit of Dublin as part of a double header in MacHale Park on the following Saturday.

Leahy will still be able to call on the services of an experienced number of players, with All Star nominees from last year, Danielle Caldwell, Éilis Ronayne, Ciara McManamon, Ciara Whyte and Sinéad Cafferky, and All Star winner from last year, Rachel Kearns, likely to be key players for his side over the coming few weeks.

Ensuring that they stay in division one will be the key objective for Mayo as they gear up for the championship later this year, which has a brand new look for the 2020 season.

The 2020 All-Ireland series will consist of two groups, with six teams in each, and the top two teams from each group will progress straight through to the All-Ireland semi-finals, following a minimum of five games. If Mayo regain the Connacht title they will be in group one where they will face off against the Ulster champions, the beaten Munster Finalists, a Munster semi-final loser, and the beaten Ulster semi-finalists. If they fail to see off Galway in the Connacht championship, they will be in a group with All Ireland champions Dublin, the Munster champions, the beaten Ulster finalists, Ulster’s fifth team, and a Munster semi-final loser.

The championship will commence on Saturday, July 4, and culminate with the All-Ireland Final on Sunday, September 13. The semi-finals have been scheduled for Sunday, August 23, with the top two teams in each group featuring.

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