All to play for as 'Tarf, Crokes and Parnell's battle it out

IN the Tesco Intermediate Championship, Clontarf have not reached the check-out just yet.

"No, the Group is still quite open," explains Tarf's Super Trouper, Anne O'Mahony.

"Parnell's are playing Crokes and we have to play Parnell's, so we'll see how things pan out."

So far, it's a win and a loss for Clontarf, who reached last season Intermediate final where they were pipped in a classic by Round Tower's Clondalkin.

Tower's have since underlined their calibre by advancing to the Senior Championship semi-final alongside Fingallians, Foxrock Cabinteely and the champs, Na Fianna.

It's the first time in a long time, a very long time, that Ballyboden didn't make the last four. The times, they are a changing.

One day, Clontarf would love to be dining with the big girls.

"We had a brilliant season last year, but there is a massive gap between inter and senior," judges Anne. "And it will be a while before we get to that level."

In the Pool 1 stage, Tarf beat St Margaret's, who had the genial young Dublin footballer, Muireann Ní Scannaill, at midfield.

"She's a tremendous prospect. If Margaret's can keep that group of players together, they will be playing at the highest level in a couple of years," predicts Anne.

Anne also salutes Kilmacud. "They are undefeated in Division 2 and they taught us a lesson out there. They are very well organised.

"They have a good focus about them this year.

"They are bringing players through, and those players have been playing Division 1 football at the underage level. That helps their transition into adult football."

Clontarf are also benefiting from an injection of youth. "We don't have a big squad, but we have been supplementing it with minors and U16s. We have had two of the Dublin minors, Sarah McCaffrey and Margaret Mohan, playing for the last couple of years.

"But you also need experience as well, the little bit of know-how that can be so important. You need the mix because the game has become physically tougher."

Every club also requires people to power the engines behind the scenes. "No club could survive without such dedicated figures," adds Anne, who applauds all the heroic work that Tarf's legendary Sue Lillis put in over the years.

And that graft has found reward with the calibre of footballers that continue to emerge on the coast, Another of Clontarf's Dublin minor contingent, Stephanie Adams, is one of the most gifted forwards in the city.

And there's more to come.