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Thursday 15 November 2018

Aoife hopes Dublin can win seventh successive Leinster title

LEARNING THE SKILLS: Dublin’s Aoife Kane (l) passes a ball to Halle McDonald (r) with Kim Ellis at the AIG Heroes event in Ballyfermot
LEARNING THE SKILLS: Dublin’s Aoife Kane (l) passes a ball to Halle McDonald (r) with Kim Ellis at the AIG Heroes event in Ballyfermot

Aaoife Kane smiles: "As a child, I played every sport under the sun."

It's a sweltering morning at the Ballyfermot Sports Centre.

It's the AIG Heroes event day, where the Dublin players arrive to coach the children.

For the kids, it's ice pop Wednesday. There's one child sitting in the shade enjoying a maxi twist.

At Croke Park last week, the man who cried "anyone there for the ices" has opened a new offshore account!

Aoife was in the Croke Park audience. "It was really hot in there," she says.

Jim Gavin's men have long been turning up the heat.

"They are such a brilliant team. They are having great success.

"It's good to see Cian O'Sullivan back fit. And to see Paul Mannion and Andy McGowan involved."

All three hail from Aoife's own club, Kilmacud Crokes.

"When I first went down there, I joined up with the U11s. I have been hooked on it ever since," she explains.

She appreciates all the hard work that the mentors invested.

She thinks of John Sheridan, the man who got the ball rolling at Crokes.

"We owe John so much. He was the inspiration behind ladies football in the club.

"And still today, he's giving so much to the club. Any time he sees you, he's asking how are you getting on. How are things going.

"He is one of the names that I think of when I'm lucky enough to be playing sport at this level.

"It's all thanks to John. And all the underage coaches.

"They give their time for nothing. And the biggest reward they can hope for is to see young players go on and do well in the game. And for everybody to keep enjoying it. People like John are just priceless."

Her Crokes colleagues, Molly Lamb and Lauren Magee, have also prospered with the county.

And Kilmacud's Éabha Rutledge is on the panel too.

"Over the years, the club has been well represented on the different Dublin sides. It's means a lot to a club when you have players wearing the county jersey. It's a boost for everybody."

And like the fellas, Aoife is hoping that the Jackies can also lift the Leinster chalice.

If they do so, it will be the seventh Leinster title in succession.

They'll play Westmeath in Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday (4.0).

Dublin won well there last July. Dublin beat Laois in Timahoe in last season's semi-final to book their ticket.

Westmeath advanced to the 2017 final following wins over Laois and Kildare.

But both team's paths to Sunday's final have not been covered in cement.

The new format sees the Dubs and Westmeath go straight into the final.

"Westmeath are a good side. They gave us a difficult test in the League. They were very fit. It was a very fast paced game.

"Their speed and strength was very impressive. It would be great to get another Leinster title in the bag."

The Dubs have already secured the Division 1 League crown. They did so in commanding manner against Mayo in Parnell Park in May. It was their firsttime winning it. But the ink is well dry on that deed now.

"It was great to win it. It's a nice accolade to have, but it won't have any bearing on things now," says Aoife.

"Championship football is a totally different ball game."

Before she first kicked a ball down in Páirc de Burca, Aoife enjoyed all kinds of games.

"I remember looking up to Sonia O'Sullivan and Derval O'Rourke."

But she never thought she'd get to play with one of her all-time heroes.

"I admired Sinéad Aherne so much. And for me to then play alongside her was a wonderful thing to happen.

"She is such a superb footballer. And for a leader, you couldn't have better.

"She is so level headed. So calm and collected. Having her as captain is invaluable for Dublin."

Her Dad, Ciarán, loves soccer. He follows Shamrock Rovers. He's the chairman of Granada FC. Other than that, it's the Sunday Game music that make the feet dance.

She's on holidays now. She's doing a degree in finance and economics at DIT.She's enjoying it. And college football.

Returning in the Fall, she'd like to have more honours on her copy book.

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