Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer will line out for Brisbane Lions in Saturday’s Australian Rules Women’s Football (AFLW) Grand Final against Adelaide Crows
Tipperary Ladies Gaelic Footballers face a huge challenge over the coming weeks if they are to emerge from their group in this year’s TG4 All Ireland Senior Championship.
The Premier County has been drawn in Group B of the championship and will face their Munster rivals Cork in their first game - recent Division 1 runners-up to Dublin - and then Meath, who they narrowly defeated in the 2019 All Intermediate final, but an improving side who recently won Division 2 of the Lidl League.
Tipperary themselves had a very tough league campaign, finishing bottom of their group and a subsequent loss to Westmeath in a relegation play-off will see them playing their league football in Division 2 in 2022.
The team has had a number of significant changes since last November when they narrowly lost out to Monaghan in the All Ireland Senior Championship. New manager Declan Carr has taken over and has brought in a fresh backroom team. With Covid regulations it was a difficult period to be a manager, especially a new manager, as time was limited with his squad prior to the commencement of the league.
Tipp were also drawn in the same group as both Dublin and Cork, the 2020 All Ireland finalists, the recent 2021 NFL Division 1 finalists, and arguably the two best teams in the country.
The retirement of Ardfinnan’s Samantha Lambert was also a considerable loss for Tipperary. Lambert’s influence and leadership at centre-back was always going to be a difficult role to fill. However, Aishling Moloney’s selection as captain came as no great surprise to anyone, and she was seen as the natural successor.
The League campaign brought not just game losses but also a significant injury list. Emma Morrissey and Aishling Moloney were both helped off the field of play in the Dublin fixture. Morrissey has a fractured bone in her ankle and Moloney may not have a role on the playing field in this year’s championship.
Aisling McCarthy, who is not long back from Australia, is also on the injured list.
On the positive side Tipperary showed great determination and grit in their relegation play-off against Westmeath with many leaders such as Maria Curley and sisters Anna Rose and Caitlin Kennedy coming to the fore. The return of AFL star Orla O’Dwyer certainly lifted the team on that occasion.
On Saturday, 2020 runners-up Cork were severely tested by defending Intermediate champions Meath, but in the end a couple of late Eimear Scally points and Brid O’Sullivan’s goal just before half-time proved sufficient for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side.
Five Stacey Grimes frees and a couple of Emma Duggan efforts kept Meath in touch, but in a nerve-jangling finale, Cork held on to claim the 1-9 to 0-10 win.
There is no doubt that Tipp will have it all to do against Cork and Meath but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility for them to progress and a quarter-final place would certainly be seen as an achievement this year.
Tipperary face Cork on Saturday, July 17 at Sean Treacy Park in Tipperary Town and will play Meath on the following Friday evening, July 23 with the top two teams from each group advancing to the last eight.
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