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Wednesday 19 June 2019

Clontarf making very big splash on the coast

All-Ireland Intermediate champs have promising future

Rising tide: Clontarf manager Mick Cronin during the All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Club Championship Final against Emmet Óg, Monaghan at Parnell Park last December
Rising tide: Clontarf manager Mick Cronin during the All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Club Championship Final against Emmet Óg, Monaghan at Parnell Park last December

Out by the Bull Wall, they have stayed many a night at the Heartbreak Hotel. Five losing Dublin Intermediate Championship finals before the tide came in.

Including a dreaded three-in-a-row that nobody wants - losing the finals of 2015, '16 and '17.

But last season, Clontarf , at last, became Intermediate champions. A huge burden was lifted from their shoulders, and they were flying without wings.

They went on to win the Leinster crown. History for the club. No Clontarf team, men's or women's, had achieved such a feat.

And then came that superb All-Ireland winning performance in Parnell Park last December.

A display that cheered Mick Bohan. Mick wore the Clontarf senior football jersey for two decades.

Mick Cronin has been coaching at the club since the late 90s, managing both boys and girls juvenile sides.

Waves

He's managing the ladies senior footballers now. And he says last year's deeds still see the waves lapping the coast.

"The All-Ireland win had a huge impact," he says. "We have three adult ladies football teams now, and they are all doing well."

Last month, Clontarf became the AIG Dublin Division 1 Féile na nGael champions. A joyous day out at St Peregrine's.

Many of those players will, hopefully, go on to play senior for club and, indeed, county.

Ellen Leddy Doyle was inspirational as Clontarf won a marvellous final against Erin's Isle.

When Dublin won the All-Ireland last September, Clontarf had three representatives on the roll - Kate Fitzgibbon, Siobhán Killeen and Katie Murray.

This term, Siobhán has been ruled out with injury, while Katie has gone to Canada for a year.

"It was such a great season last year, and this season we have introduced some of the younger girls to the squad," explains Mick.

"It's been tough going, especially after the highs of last season, but the players are progressing well."

Playing Division 1 football in Dublin was a big help last term, especially on the Leinster and All-Ireland road. And Clontarf are also now thrilled to have made their debut in this season's Dublin Senior Championship. Performing with credit, winning two games from four.

"It's a great level. You are meeting top sides like Foxrock Cabinteely. This is the standard we want to be playing at.

"We know we have a way to go, but we'll keep going. We are keen to improve and we will put in the work to get there.

"There is so much quality at senior level - you have the pace, strength and skill factors. It's tough to get up to that standard, but we are determined to do it."

Clontarf have plenty of quality in their panel - personnel like goalkeeper, Carrie O'Connor, a real role-model to the young players, and to everybody else in the group.

Overcoming adversity is in the team's DNA. And, as Mick Cronin says, they'll keep striving until they reach the harbour.

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