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Thursday 14 December 2017

Leah is a pillar of Mobhi Road and Jackies defence

Dublin’s Leah Caffrey
Dublin’s Leah Caffrey

For Leah Caffrey, the bus journey to Croke Park is one of the highlights of the day.

Sweeping down the Clonliffe Road and getting the waves from the Blue Army.

It was a little different when her father, John, was playing for the Dubs. He won the All-Ireland in 1983.

He was an integral part of Heffo's Master-Plan. The third midfielder. Well before the days of video analysis and clip-boards.

Back then, the Dublin players who had cars would normally drive to the back of the old Canal End and leave their vehicles there. Then, with gear bag over the shoulder, they'd mingle with the crowds on the Jones's Road on their way into the ground.

No head-phones to block out the din - and the banter of the faithful.

John is at all of Leah's matches.

Like she was a supporter herself when John's brother, Pillar, managed Na Fianna and the Dubs.

John was on Fintan O'Curry's All-Ireland minor management when Leah was on the side that collected the All-Ireland minor title.

This will be her third All-Ireland senior final after 2014 and last September. She lost them both to Cork, and both by a point.

"There will be the bit of nerves in the build-up, but I have got quite used to it at this stage," said Leah.

"The week before the game is quiet enough. And once you meet the squad and see the familiar faces on the Sunday, the nerves tend to settle.

Leah feels this match could be a corker. "It should be a very good game. It could well be very tight.

"Mayo are a serious side. They had that highly significant win against Cork. It's going to be a very big challenge for us.

"Mayo have plenty of quality. It's not only Cora Staunton. She is an icon of the sport, but they have some super players, and they proved that against Cork."

Leah and her defensive colleagues will work hard to close all windows.

House

And the Na Fianna faithful will be making the short trip down to the big house to cheer on their All-Star.

She loves spending time on the Mobhi Road. She feels comfortable among its people.

"Na Fianna is such a good club. And things are going well there," she said.

When Dublin won the All-Ireland crown in 2010, the Glasnevin club had four players involved - Mary Nevin, Bernie Finlay, Orlagh Egan and Sorcha Turnbull.

And in recent years, Na Fianna have become one of the finest teams that Dublin ladies football has ever seen. Champions in 2009, 2011 and 2014.

"Our own senior ladies team is going through a bit of a development phase, but the signs are good. There's a lot of young players coming through."

And you can guarantee that when the little girls show up for the Nursery on Saturday mornings, the player they all want to be is Leah Caffrey.

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