FOR JUST THE second time in the club’s history, Foxrock Cabinteely ladies are gearing up for another Leinster final appearance.
They took the honours last year at the expense of Sarsfields Mountmellick (Laois) and this year’s challengers come from the St. Laurence’s club in Kildare.
But while they’re full value for their spot in today’s final, Cabinteely’s campaign almost came to a halt before the provincial stages even began. The county final against their rivals St Brigid’s produced a frantic finish with Cabinteely clutching to a two point lead.
With seconds remaining, a scramble ensued in Cabinteely’s goalmouth. Brigid’s forward Elaine Kelly emerged with the ball and her resultant shot was greeted with relief from the reigning champions, as it sailed over the bar.
Can @OFFICIALFoxCab do the double on Sun & retain their provincial crown. They face St Laurence's, Kildare 1:30pm in Kinnegad #ClubisFamily pic.twitter.com/pTquvTfdOc
— DublinLGFA (@dublinladiesg) November 4, 2016
Their hold of the Dublin senior championship was just millimetres away from being severed, but a one point cushion allowed Cabinteely to prevail. Sinéad Goldrick knows that her side were fortunate to survive that scare, but in the same breath, she says the preceding rounds were no breezy walk either.
“We’re always really appreciative,” she tells The42, ”we’re making club history for the second year-in-a-row and it’s always so tough to get out of the Dublin championship. We won by a point and got out of there by the skin of our teeth. We had a very tough game against Crokes in our semis too and we were lucky to get through that game also, so to get out of Dublin for the second year-in-a-row is something that we’re very proud of.”
The management team co-ordinating the Foxrock Cabinteely ladies boasts an impressive line-up of Peter Clarke, Angie McNally, Pat Ring and Colm Kearney. Clarke is a well established inter-county manager in Ladies football while Angie McNally led a decorated career in the Dublin jersey.
Goldrick says their arrival has been a blessing for the club.
“They’ve all coached Dublin and have been involved with Mayo. When they take a team they take it together so they have brought a huge wealth of experience, they know football inside out and they don’t leave a stone unturned.”
Peter (Clarke) has a notebook and any team that we’re playing, he puts so much work in ahead of it. He’d be going down to games and picking their target players for us, he gives us a game plan and match-ups and stuff like that. As players we have a huge amount of respect for that and there’s a huge amount of unity within our team.”
Clarke’s research is clearly rubbing off his players. Goldrick is well versed on the strengths of the St. Laurence’s team and the range of players who pose a threat to Cabinteely’s title.
“They came out the right side against Confey in the Kildare championship. Emer Fogarty scored 1-06 and Maggie O’Neill I think scored 1-02 so they’ve really good forwards and we’re looking at that. We know they have a solid defence system so we just need to be patient. We’ll be putting in the same thought and preparation into this game as any other game.”
Goldrick in action for Dublin.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Fixture congestion continues to provoke ire in men’s GAA with club teams repeatedly calling for better treatment and for gaps between their games to be reduced. The recently formed Club Players Association (CPA) is the culmination of that hostility.
This issue however, seems to be less prominent in Ladies GAA. The Dublin ladies county board made some adjustments last year to ensure the championship schedule is fairer on clubs.
“There’s always room for improvement,” says Goldrick, “but our county board and the Dublin senior team worked ahead of the season and Gregory McGonagle (Dublin ladies manager) spoke to the county board and saw gaps where club games could go ahead.”
“Before our All-Ireland Final we had played our Dublin county final so it’s great because for club players, you want to playing championship football over the summer. We have that in ladies (football) so it’s really good and it gives you a break from county too.”
Foxrock Cabinteely have three representatives on the Dublin senior panel which made a third consecutive All-Ireland final appearance this year. Both Goldrick and Niamh Collins started in defence that day while Niamh Ryan was among the substitutes.
It’s always great to be playing county,” Goldrick explains, “because you’re playing with the best players in Dublin so you’re going to be improving. Within our club, we’ve a lot of players who could be playing for Dublin but they really want to focus on club for different personal reasons.”
But while playing inter-county football is a personal honour, and new friendships inevitably follow, it’s impossible to replicate the bonding enjoyed in a club team’s dressing room. Cabinteely are hungry to chase down more history today, and they’re grateful to be doing it together.
“There’s a group of us that have been playing since we were seven and playing football with players since you started football, there’s something special about that. And we’ve had players who have come in from different counties and I played with them in UCD and have been friends with them through college as well so again, it’s that sense of unity that you have.”
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