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Fay focus on Royal rumble

GEMMA FAY has been decorating the Dublin jersey for a few years now. She has sensed the climate change.

"These days, ladies football is a tough game to play. The standards have gone up in so many ways," she says.

Gemma refers to Dublin's win over Laois in the TG4 Leinster Senior Championship semi-final as a case in point.

"The intensity of that game was remarkable. People were saying to me it was very much like men's football.

"It had everything -- the passing, the support off the shoulder, and just the overall tempo. All the teams are stepping up to the mark these days."

The Jackies will again have to step up to the plate next Sunday when they meet Meath in the Leinster final at Dr Cullen Park.

Challenge

"It's great going into that tie with two tough games behind us in Kildare and Laois. Laois came to Portmarnock as Leinster champions, so we knew it was going to be a massive challenge for us.

"They are such a good side, and I have no doubt that they'll make progress through the back door."

The Dubs had to go deep into the mine to chisel out the victory. It was tight and tense for the hour. It was a duel that would have graced the Centre Court.

Cliodhna O'Connor, and the iron work, prevented Joe Higgins' side going six points up. In the very next movement, Dublin drew level. That's how delicately balanced these debates can be.

Now, Carlow is set for another Dublin-Meath Royal Rumble. She said: "Last year, Meath beat us in the first round, so we'll know what to expect. We beat them in the league this year, but people won't be reading too much into that. Championship is different.

"We wanted to be back in the Leinster final, and we knew we'd have to beat the likes of Laois to get there. Now, we'll have to lift it even more.

"We are all determined to be Leinster champions again. There have been a lot of changes on the team this year.

"We have a good mixture, and we have been getting used to each other.

"The girls' work-rate is amazing, and the effort we are putting in on the training ground can be seen on the pitch.

"It was such a hard-fought win over Laois the last day. We were all thankful we got the result.

"We are all now looking forward to Sunday. It's great to be back in the Leinster final."