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Thursday 22 November 2018

Sinéad hoping to steer Jackies to history

Dublin skipper predicts another compelling clash against Mayo

Rival camps: Mayo’s Sarah Rowe and Dublin’s Sinéad Aherne
Rival camps: Mayo’s Sarah Rowe and Dublin’s Sinéad Aherne

Yesterday lunchtime. Sinéad Aherne skips down the Jones's Road. Like Katie Taylor.

Sinéad is just as modest. And as soft spoken. She only turns up the volume when she laces up the boots.

It's the Media Day ahead of Sunday's Lidl National League Division 1 final in Parnell Park. Dublin and Mayo back in the ring (4.0).

Sinéad is at the end of many microphones in the Croke Park Hotel. The big stadium is across the way.

Last September, over 46,0000 were there to see Dublin win their second All-Ireland SFC title.

Star forward: Dublin’s Sinéad Aherne who will lead the way for her team in this Sunday’s Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 final against Mayo in Parnell Park
Star forward: Dublin’s Sinéad Aherne who will lead the way for her team in this Sunday’s Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 final against Mayo in Parnell Park

The Dublin captain is hoping to see a huge crowd in Donnycarney as the sides meet again.

The Division 2 final between Cavan and Tipperary starts the double bill (2.0).

"Having the game in Parnell Park is a good opportunity for the Dublin followers to come out. It would be nice if we got big numbers again.

"It's a compact venue, and hopefully there will be a great atmosphere. They should be two exciting matches," says the high class forward.

She has been playing for the county since she was 17. Coming on in the All-Ireland SFC final against Mayo.

That was in 2003. It took her, and Dublin, another seven years before they were able to climb the steps of the Hogan.

And before last year's success, there was much heartbreak along the path.

Sinéad took a year out to go travelling in 2015. But returned to her desk at KPMG, and to the Dublin jersey.

Now she'd like to lead her colleagues up the steps of the Parnell Park Palladium.

She's predicting a stern challenge from Mayo.

"Dublin versus Mayo are always close games, and I'm expecting another tight one.

"Mayo are a very good side. They have the blend of youth and experience. They are well balanced."

They also beat Cork in the semi-final. Cork were seeking their sixth successive League (Division 1) title."

The Dubs have never won it.

"It would be a huge achievement for Dublin to win it. And it's great to get another competitive game going into the Championship.

Freshness

"The League is a different kettle of fish to the Championship. You are trying out new players, and it was good to see that freshness coming into the team. Like last year's All-Ireland final showed, you always need players coming off the bench.

"Getting to the League final does show a measure of consistency, and both ourselves and Mayo will be giving it everything on Sunday.

"Some of us were away together on the All-Star trip, but that won't count for anything. We are all competitive sportspeople."

Dublin almost didn't make it to the final. Galway had them on the ropes in the semi-final in Kinnegad.

"Galway are a good team. They came out of the blocks very quickly. They were able to impose their game on us. We were playing the game on their terms.

"But gradually we came more into it, and we got good momentum in the second half."

Even then, it took a classical late goal from Nicole Owens to give Dublin their ticket.

Nicole plays with Sinéad's club, St Sylvester's.

"It was a great team goal in the way the ball was moved up the pitch. And fair play to Nicole, it was a great finish."

A finish chiselled on the hallowed turf of Malahide.

The Super Syl stresses that improvement is needed to take the chalice.

"We can't afford to give Mayo the head-start that we gave Galway. Mayo have the quality to punish us.

Mistakes

"We made a lot of mistakes against Galway. We had a lot of turnovers. We tried to force it a bit too much.

"We weren't happy with our performance. We'll need a huge step up from that to beat Mayo."

Mick Bohan's team are not dwelling on the fact that they are All-Ireland champions.

"Last year is all done and dusted now," remarks Sinéad. "It counts for nothing.

"We just finished ahead of the pack last season, but the new season quickly rolls around.

"And you could see in the League that there's very little between the teams.

"It's all about striving for improvement all the time. We have managed to do some things right, but we have lots to work on."

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