SUNDAY'S ladies' All-Ireland senior championship final between Mayo and Dublin in Croke Park is set to be watched by a record attendance.
Last year's final between Cork and Dublin drew what was then a record attendance for an All-Ireland final as 34,445 turned up to watch the game. But this record figure is set to be surpassed by a huge margin as The Connaught Telegraph can confirm that over 40,000 tickets have already been sold for this year's final.
Meanwhile, Cork's eight-time All-Ireland winner Juliet Murphy believes that the Cora Staunton factor will give Mayo the advantage when they take on Dublin on Sunday. Dublin have plenty of experience at this stage, having played in - and lost - the last three finals.
Murphy has played against both sides many times and while she admits that Dublin are the favourites, she has a sneaking suspicions that they’ll suffer a fourth consecutive final defeat on Sunday.
She said: “It’s important to note that earlier in the year when Mayo and Dublin played in the league, they played in Croke Park. That will be an advantage to those young Mayo players. They now have the experience of going into the dressing room and coming out and playing in front of a large crowd, that will stand to them a little bit.
“You have the likes of Cora Staunton, Fiona McHale and Yvonne Byrne - those players have huge experience and they’ll settle the younger players.”
For Juliet, Staunton represents the best player to ever grace a ladies’ football field. “She’s a fantastic player and person,” said the Cork ace. However, she has good help around her this year, Juliet noted. “She’s being well assisted by Niamh and Grace Kelly and Sarah Rowe, among others. There was a time when players could get back and drop into the ‘D’ and three or four players would surround Cora but I think it’s a bit different this year.
“That’s a little bit different to Mayo from what we’ve seen but I don’t think just one player can mark Cora on Sunday, it’s just not feasible. She’s a phenomenal player and she’s unstoppable on a one-to-one.
“I do fancy Mayo. In the middle of the field, Aileen Gilroy had a fantastic game against Cork - she’s really athletic and goes forward all the time. I think that’s going to be a really interested battle with Fiona and Aileen against Laura McGee and Olwen Carey, and I think if Mayo can get on top there they have a really good chance of winning.
“I think Mayo have enough to get over the line and I think they’ve maybe had a harder test with Donegal and Cork to get the final.”