Dublin ladies captain Sinéad Aherne says her side will have to improve on their semi-final performance if they are to secure a first ever Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 crown against Mayo on Sunday.
The reigning All-Ireland champions were fortunate to come through their clash against Galway in the previous round, and were chasing the contest throughout until Nicole Owens emerged with a brilliant individual goal late in the game to nudge them over the line.
Mick Bohan’s charges will be coming up against a Mayo side who have been hitting considerable tallies in the latter stages of the league, including the 6-11 they registered against Monaghan, before they knocked out reigning champions Cork in the semi-final.
Aherne notes the potency of Mayo’s attack and stresses that Dublin cannot afford to concede an early advantage to the Connacht side when they meet in Parnell Park.
“In the last couple of games they’ve put up some really big scores so their forwards have been going really well,” she said at launch of 2018 Lidl Ladies National Football League finals in the Croke Park hotel in Dublin.
“They’ve a lot of youth mixed with experience, and having the likes of Fiona McHale pushed into the forward line as well.
“I think defensively, we need to be very solid to make sure that they’re not getting on top of us in there.
“We made a lot of mistakes the last day. Our turnover count was a bit big and we tried to force things a little bit. Some of the games, we’ve been in tight situations and we managed to get ourselves out of it. We did that as the [Galway] game went on but we can’t afford to give Mayo a head start the way we did against Galway because I think they have the quality to push it throughout the game.
“I think we have to minimise our mistakes. Their forwards are strong so we need to defensively keep it very tight.”
Along with their previous triumph in 2010, last year’s All-Ireland final success was Dublin ladies’ second time to collect the Brendan Martin Cup in their history. But despite their consistency at the top end of the National League, Dublin have had to settle for Division 2 honours in the past.
A top-flight crown would be a welcomed addition to their cabinet, and the league campaign has allowed Bohan to experiment with his panel as they prepare for their All-Ireland defence.
But Aherne insists that while the possibility of winning more silverware is obviously a target, getting as many competitive games as possible before the start of the Leinster championship is equally important.
“Some of the players coming in unfortunately have picked up a few knocks, so I’m sure that experimentation will continue for a little bit past the league.
“It’s been great to see players coming in, you obviously need that freshness and you need players challenging right throughout your panel.
“It’s great to get another seriously competitive match to bring you into championship. It’s a national title, it’s obviously something that we’d like to win.
“It shows a measure of consistency in results and performance that can only be a bonus going into championship.
“The main thing is just trying to work on increasing our performance, our performance levels from the last day. We’re going to have to be on top of our game for Mayo on Sunday.”
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