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Fianna eye league lift

THIRTY years is a long time. It was an itch that Na Fianna were happy to scratch. Dublin Adult Football League Division 1 winners for the first time since 1979.

Number nine is the lucky number on the Mobhi Road. They won their first senior championship in 1969, their second in '79 and their third in '99. The '99 success came with extra Flake. It led to the three-in-a-row.

They were the ice-cream days of Pillar's Parade when some of the best footballers in Ireland were lacing up the boots in Glasnevin.

The year 2001 was the last time Na Fianna won the championship. This season they lost to St Jude's in the quarter-final.

"We were very disappointed with that," reflected current manager, Mick Downes. "We also lost last year's Division 1 final to them. But once we were knocked out of the championship this time, we made the league our priority.

"So it was nice to win it. It shows that progress is being made.

"We have a young team. We had a good few under-21s playing against Sylvester's in the final. We have experience as well.

"We are trying to bring on as many young players as we can. Hopefully, winning the league will give us that bit of confidence to go a step or two further."

Defeating Syls in the final has added a couple of feathers in the cap.

"Division 1 in Dublin is the hardest league in the country to win. Every game is a tough game. You often come away from venues disappointed. It took us 17 games to win the league and every one of them was hard-fought."

Mick salutes the work of his co-pilots, James Mangan and Seán Forde. Seán was the heartbeat of the three-in-a-row team toiling in the engine room.

So indeed was Senan Connell who has put the golden boots underneath the TV3. They are big boots to fill, but the Mobhi River is flowing soundly. The underage structure is a formidable one, as the excellent U21s and minors confirm.

The minors have just received sponsorship from Kelly Bradshaw Dalton, the Dublin property letting and sales people on the Drumcondra Road.

The Na Fianna bricks and mortar suggest promising days ahead. "We'll take time to reflect on 2012. We'll look at the minors, under-21s, and our second team and take it from there," explains Mick.