Dublin set up semi-final date with Mayo

The Leinster champions were given a scare against Donegal

Dublin, Donegal,

Image: ©INPHO/Tom Beary

Dublin will play Mayo in this year's TG4 All-Ireland ladies SFC semi-finals but their bid to reach a third senior final in-a-row only survived after a serious scare in Longford.

Cliona Foley at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford.

The Leinster champions left their shooting boots behind them, shooting almost 20 wides in total, including many easy frees.

They struggled badly to deal with Donegal’s blanket defence in the first half and trailed by two points (1-4 to 0-5) at half-time.

But then they made a breakthrough.

An inspirational point by Niamh McEvoy, followed by a brilliant Noelle Healy pass to put Sinead Aherne through to goal, saw them finally pull clear in the third quarter.

Substitute Siobhan Woods, Carla Rowe and Lyndsey Davey also contributed as they built up a four-point lead with eight minutes left.

But then Donegal’s ‘secret weapon’ struck.

Geraldine McLaughlin, only recently back from America, was sprung from the Donegal bench at half-time and the Termon ace bagged a goal in the 55th minute to leave just a point between the sides again.

Image: ©INPHO/Tom Beary

A great individual point from Rowe settled Dublin again and then Davey earned a free which Aherne slotted.

Gregory McGonigle’s side were reduced to 14 players in the final minute when Woods was sin-binned.

And they were under siege in their own square when former fullback star Muireann Ni Scanaill, just back from a long injury layoff, made one of the game’s most vital intervention.

When Donegal floated one last possession into the crowded goalmouth she leapt up to secure and clear it before the buzzer sounded.

Image: ©INPHO/Tom Beary

The three-point margin may have flattered Dublin at times but defenders like Sinead Goldrick and Sinead Finnegan worked tirelessly throughout and they vitally pinned Ulster back in their own '45 for much of the second half.

Earlier they were rocked by a 21st minute goal when Amber Barrett sent a speculative lob into their square and Yvonne McMonagle got up to beat goalkeeper Ciara Trant to the punch.

But, in the end, the Dubs’ experience and superior bench depth got them through.