herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

dublin continue to meet gold standard

Quality of the club game and of the county teams are top-of-class

ONE of Fiona Claffey's all-time favourite sports stars is Andre Agassi.

Andre put the petrol in the tank by running for miles in the heat of the Nevada Desert.

Fiona says that Dublin football is also about making the hard years.

She plays for Foxrock Cabinteely. They played Na Fianna in last year's Dublin Senior Championship final.

The two teams produced a rock and roll show on a humid summer's night at Fingallians.

The smell of the buggers wafted in the air. And it was hot stuff out on the pitch as well.

"It was a very good final. The tempo was just so intense," Fiona recalls.

"Na Fianna gave it everything right from the start. Our backs could hardly get out because of the pressure their forwards were putting on us.

"Both sides worked so hard. It was a great advert for the game in Dublin. And Na Fianna deserved to win it.

"The standard is so high in Dublin football. You have different teams winning the county final each year.

"Then you have new teams coming up from the Intermediate and the junior ranks and doing well, so it all augurs well."

With the stretch in the evenings, the Dublin Leagues will be starting back soon enough.

But out in Kilbogget Park, the work never stops.

Right now, the locality is cock-a-hoop with the exploits of Cabinteely FC in the League of Ireland.

And like Cabo, the Fox Cabs are making sure that the river of talent will always keep flowing.

"The under-age set-up at Foxrock-Cabinteely is what has made the club what it is," states Fiona.

"A lot of people have put in so much work at the ground level. "The club has enjoyed All-Ireland Feile success, and success all the way up through the ranks.

"All that effort is now coming through. It's just a fantastic club with a really good set-up."

Fiona's presence and considerable experience has certainly helped in the development.

She's a highly accomplished inter-county performer, wearing the colours of Westmeath.

They play in Division 2 of the Tesco Homegrown National League. "Things are going well there. We reached the Division 2 final in Parnell Park last year, losing to Galway."

Niall Williams is the new Westmeath manager. He was previously with Na Fianna.

The former Donegal player, Nadine Doherty, who also played for Na Fianna, is part of Niall's management crew.

"Things are moving. We made progress last year. We lost to Mayo by a point in the Championship, whereas the season before we lost to them by five goals."

Getting up to the level of the Dubs is another question, as Fiona relates.

"There is a big jump between us and Dublin in the Leinster Championship, but, as I say, we are improving.

"We'll keep on working towards trying to bridge that gap. We are still a young enough team, so hopefully we can keep on progressing."

She is a fan of the Jackies. "Dublin have a fantastic team. And they have unfinished business after last year's All-Ireland final.

"We were all devastated watching that, even me as a Westmeath woman!

"But Dublin will learn from that All-Ireland final. And I'm sure they'll put the lessons to good use."

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