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Saturday 21 October 2017

O'Leary's rallying cry: Come out and support the Jackies

Dublin football legend John O'Leary believes it's Dublin's year

LEGENDARY shot-stopper John O'Leary knows what it takes to win an All-Ireland and he believes the girls in blue will come up with the goods tomorrow.

The former goalkeeper, who has two All Ireland titles to his name, said that he has been following the progress of the Jackies from afar.

The Dublin team are underdogs going in ahead of the All-Ireland senior football final at Croke Park. However, O'Leary (inset), a former manager of the ladies' football team, is convinced that they can still bring the Brendan Martin Cup to Dublin for the winter.

"Cork obviously have a great chance, they've a strong history in the final - but I think the Dubs will do it," he told the Herald.

But it certainly won't be a walk-over, the team led by Sinead Goldrick will have to really get stuck in on the day, according to O'Leary.

He predicted a tough game against their southern counterparts.

It has been a decade since the former skipper took over the ladies' team and led them to an All Ireland final - but the team were left disappointed after losing out to Galway in 2004.

"It's great to see some of the old heads from my day still there," he said.

O'Leary believes the fact that the ladies have both won and lost titles in the last number of years will set them apart from Cork.

"They've got experience from both sides of the coin but this year they are definitely well within range," he said. "They have the bit of that 'been there done that' attitude - which is good."

The northsider has been a staunch supporter of the girls in blue.

When he stood at the helm of the team, he was extremely critical of the lackluster support that they attracted.

Women's football is just as skillful as men's, according to the five-times all-star player, and deserves the exact same attention.

"When you think about ladies' football you might have certain ideas but they put in the same hours, they work incredibly hard.

"Women are actually much more dedicated and much easier to train," he revealed.

When he was over the women's team, he was concerned that they weren't getting the same recognition for their skill.

But things are on the up for the Jackies. "The crowd still won't be as big [as for men's matches] but the support is growing year on year," he said.

He reckons that if the ladies do the business tomorrow it will only add to that increasing support.

"Wining an All-Ireland creates a hype for the next crowd of players coming up," he commented. "It's a great advertisement for the club sport around the city."

He managed the Dublin ladies for just two years and knows the importance of being mentally prepared.

worrying

"When we were in the final they [Dublin] had lost the year before to Mayo in a last-minute goal and you go into the game worrying that the same thing is going to happen," he noted.

But looking at the team he thinks that they have every right to be confident.

Cliodhna O'Connor and Siobhan McGrath were both on his panel a decade ago and he has been watching them grow as players.

"They're physically much stronger now and much more experienced," their former manager said. "Both have been around quite a while and are only getting better.

"It's great when they start so young and get a long career out of it and this year's team have a great range of ages on the panel."

The footballing legend said he can't wait for throw-in at 4pm tomorrow.

"I'm really looking forward to a good game," he concluded.

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