Monday 24 September 2018

sandyford salutes the cultured Clara

Naomh Olaf's inspirational Dublin U16 captain is role model for all

STANDING room only at Naomh Olaf. It was going to be a special homecoming.

One of their own, Clara O'Sullivan, had a hold of the Leinster U16 Championship trophy.

Earlier in the day, she had received the cup from Finbarr O'Driscoll, the Leinster President.

Finbarr is also a member of Olaf's. He was one of the top referees in the country.

And when the sport was introducing the clock, he operated its workings like a Swiss jeweller.

Clara made a telling impact in the Clane final against Meath.


Within four minutes of the second half, she had scored 1-1.

Like the great Katie Walsh heading for home, the Dubs never looked back after that.

It's Clara's second year with the U16s. And she also made a dramatic donation last season.

She came off the bench against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final to score the equalising point and bring the game to extra-time.

The Blues won. But Cork beat them in the final.

Dublin now face Kerry. That could be a little awkward over the cornflakes for Clara.

Her father, Neil, is from Kilgarvan. Jackie Healy-Rae country.

But Mr O'Sullivan has his vote cast already. Dublin and Kilmacud footballer Cian O'Sullivan also has Kilgarvan links. His father, John, is from there.

Cian is no relation to Clara, but she plays with all his swashbuckling style.

It was the sixth year in succession that Dublin have been the Leinster U16 champions.

Pat Kane is the manager. He hailed the industry of the side.

Pat is from Clanna Gael Fontenoy. And like Kilgarvan, there must be something special in the Ringsend breeze.

Pat's fellow Clanns' man Martin McDonnell had led the Dublin minors to the Leinster five-in-a-row.

No doubt, many of the 16s will become minor maestros.

But for the moment, their focus is very much on the Kingdom.

And the Olaf's Armada will be out in force to cheer on Clara and the team.

The Olaf's chairman, Anthony Delaney, says it's a proud time at the club.

"Our own David Byrne captained Dublin to the Leinster U21 Football title, so having two Dublin captains from Olaf's is very special.

"And for David and Clara to bring home Leinster titles is something that you really only dream about.

"Both are great leaders and wonderful ambassadors for the club."

The Olaf's home is named after another inspirational club figure, Barry O'Brien, who captained the Dublin U21 hurlers.

The venue has enjoyed some noble hurling days. Camogie too.

And back in the 90s, Olaf's had one of the top ladies' football teams in the city.

If any team deserved to win the Dublin Senior Championship, it was them.

They came close. They reached two finals. Losing one in a replay. And both to Portobello.

Portobello were the best team in the county at the time. They were the All-Blacks of the Leinster Road.

They won the five-in-a-row. Lovely people. Many a glass of Miwadi was poured by Jamesie O'Donnell in The Portobello.

Olaf's also had some fabulous footballers. And they played with a smile. Now they have a young Captain Fantastic that's the pride of Balally.

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