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Noelle Healy.

Noelle Healy.

Noelle Healy is relishing Croke Park return

By Cian O'Connell

An important and noteworthy weekend for Ladies Football beckons with four games taking place ahead of Allianz League encounters on Saturday and Sunday.

Croke Park, Pearse Stadium, Inniskeen, and Dr Hyde Park hosts Lidl Ladies National Football League fixtures which should increase awareness and heighten interest in the competing counties.

It is an exciting development according to Dublin's Noelle Healy, who was so impressive in last September's All Ireland final victory against Mayo.

"It's not just Division One, it's not just the big names like Mayo-Dublin or Mayo-Galway," Healy says.

"It's brilliant. It makes sense. If the teams are playing the same day, if it facilitates that both of them are at home then why not let the supporters watch teams and support both teams? 

"It just makes sense. If you're an inter-county footballer you want to be playing on the best pitches that are available. It's brilliant, it's absolute credit to the LGFA and the GAA for making it happen."

Saturday's clash against Cork at the Jones Road venue promises to be an interesting tussle according to Healy. "Yeah, I suppose any time you get into Croke Park is brilliant," Healy admits. "We have Kerry as well which is a good run out and then Mayo in MacHale, all early on, March and February time. 

"The League is a bit front loaded this year just because of the trip that's away. It's kind of hard to judge because a lot of their younger players and our younger players would be college players so they'd have a lot of different fitness than we would and I don't know what kind of team they'll be playing. 

"Anytime you get to play in Croke Park is great and you always want to be playing good teams to put yourself up against them so hopefully, it'll be a good match."

Despite fielding experimental teams with emerging players involved, Dublin have started the competition brightly. "Yeah, exactly, and two wins away from home as well," Healy states. "The girls have done brilliantly. 

"It was great to get the result so hopefully it will continue. It's kind of hard. When you've three games in-a-row, it's difficult to get back and get a breather and do any proper type of analysis on it, but hopefully there'll be a bit of a break after it so we can take stock."

Always will to adapt and learn, Dublin returned to the summit of the Ladies game with a thrilling Championship adventure in 2017. Maintaining the standards set is the current task and a Croke Park clash with Cork on Saturday provides the next test in a busy stint.

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