Ladies look to book final date in Breffni

Ladies Football: All Ireland Senior Football Championship Semi Final

Final push: Niamh Kelly will be one of Mayo's key players on Saturday evening. Photo: Sportsfile.

Final push: Niamh Kelly will be one of Mayo's key players on Saturday evening. Photo: Sportsfile.

It has been nine years since Mayo last competed in the All Ireland senior final and seven years since they last took part in a semifinal. On Saturday evening Frank Browne's charges are looking to take another step towards claiming the county's first All Ireland title since 2003.

Standing in their way is the last team they beat in the showpiece occasion in Croke Park, the Leinster champions Dublin. The Dublin girls have won the All Ireland title just once in 2010, but they have contested the last two finals going down to Cork in both of those clashes.

Mayo booked their place in the final four of the competition with a hard fought two point win over Westmeath in Pearse Park, Longford, a fortnight ago and they know they will have to seriously up their game if they are going to see off the Dublin girls come tomorrow evening. In the Leinister championship the Dubs beat Westmeath 4-23 to 0-7 in the provincial decider, outscoring the Westmeath girls by 3-12 to 0-2 in the last 30 minutes on their way to claiming their fifth Leinster title on the bounce.

In their quarterfinal, Dublin saw off Donegal on the same day as Mayo beat Westmeath in another close encounter on the scoreboard, but if the Dubs had brought their shooting boots the margin of victory could have been much bigger as the tallied up 20 wides over the 60 minutes. In the end they ran out 1-13 to 2-7 winners over a stubborn Donegal challenge in the last eight.

Mayo manager Frank Browne was in a relaxed, but confident mood ahead of tomorrows game when we caught up with him this week. "It's always the sign of a good year, when you're looking for pitches this late in the season and we're very happy with where we are right now and are looking to get out on the field and do our stuff tomorrow night.

"We're in a decent place at the moment, no injuries or nothing, it's not luck that we're like that, we and the players have really managed the situation well this year." While he is happy with having no injuries going into the game, the fact that Mayo have played only two championship games since the league final in the spring is something that does have its drawbacks and we saw that on the field against Westmeath where Mayo failed to get up to the pace of the game at times. "It's not ideal preparation, we stuttered over the line against Westmeath, maybe we were a bit complacent, but we were rusty too from the gap in tough games. You can play all the challenge games, but it's nothing like championship game," said Browne.

The man who was in charge of Mayo the last time they got to an All Ireland final in 2007 knows the game is all about winning. "We've looked back at the video and have picked out some things, but we didn't go overboard on it. That game is done and dusted and we have Dublin coming up the tracks and they are a very different team. At the end of the day we are in an All Ireland semifinal and that's where we want to be. Last year we were in an classic great game against Galway in the Connacht final, but we came out on that the wrong side of the result. At this stage of the year, I'd rather be involved in a scrappy, poorer, game and still come out with the win, because you get nothing for losing a classic."

Mayo are going into the game as underdogs, but that is something that they will relish, Browne says. "I suppose we were favourites against Westmeath and we just about got over the line and that has seen us fall back in some people's eyes. But that nearly makes it easier for this group of girls, they'll circle the wagons and build in the seige mentality and want to show everyone that they were wrong about them as a group, you'll not find a tougher group of girls"

As for Dublin, Browne is expecting nothing less than the toughest of challenges. "They are a vastly experienced side, they've won a lot of provincial titles and have been in the last two All Ireland finals. They've shown their quality over the last number of seasons. We beat them in the league in Swinford earlier this year, but this will be a much different game come Saturday night."

The fixing of the game in Breffni Park in Cavan, a much longer trip for Mayo than for Dublin, has rasied a few eyebrows, but it is not something that will bother Mayo, Browne believes. "The only thing about the venue was that we only found out about it late last week and you want to have all your planning and preparation done with the logistics side of it a bit earlier, but we've everything sorted and it's now head down and get the job done."

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