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aherne focused

SINEAD AHERNE was always a forward. "I don't think my tackling skills would allow me to be a defender," she chuckles.

That didn't look like the case in Kildare this summer. Dublin were playing the Lilywhites in the TG4 Leinster Championship.

During the first half, Sinead made a lung-buster of a run from the full-forward line to the right sideline at halfway to retrieve possession.

But it is up front where she has made the church bells ring.

She is one of the best forwards that have ever decorated the sport.

Growing up, she admired Jason Sherlock. In her own game, she hails the likes of Martina Farrell and Denise Masterson.

"There have been some great 
role models on the Dublin ladies team over the years."

She has been with the senior squad for over a decade now.

"Two-thousand-and-three was my first year on the panel. I came on as a sub against Longford. I have so many wonderful memories of my time with Dublin."

The CV includes three All-Star awards, and four All-Ireland finals.

"I was only new to the squad and we got to two All-Ireland finals in 2003 and 2004. We didn't reach another one till 2009, so it just shows you can take nothing for granted.

"And we lost those three finals before we actually won one in 2010."

That was the day that Sinead produced a master-class, scoring two goals and seven points (0-3 from frees).

It had one of Dublin football's most revered figures, Jimmy Keaveney, saluting her genius.

But she deflects such praise over the bar.

"It was just a game where everything went right for us. Everybody performed right throughout the field. We had the advantage of being there before whereas Tyrone didn't, so that was another factor.

The previous year, Cork had beaten the Dubs by a point. In 2003, it was Mayo's late strike that took the prize, and in 2004, it was Galway's superior second half that led to victory.

The Blues haven't been back to an All-Ireland final since 2010, but they are not thinking about that.


"We have lost at the quarter-final stage in the last few years, so hopefully we can put that right the next day."

The draw for the All-Ireland quarter-finals will be made live on TG4 next Saturday.

Dublin would love to banish the Birr blues. They lost their last three quarter-finals at the venue.

In 2011, Cork beat them by a point. The following year, the Dubs fell to Kerry by a point and last term Cork made the recovery of all recoveries to win by four points.

Sinead suggests that reaching their first National League Division 1 final in May has been a help. "That gave us two extra matches against quality opposition in Monaghan and Cork.

"And it also meant we had the shorter break than in other years coming into the championship, so that sharpened the focus as well."

Cork beat Dublin in that league final in Parnell Park. "They have been the most consistent team over the last few years. You always know you are in for a difficult game against them.

"And it was exactly that in the final. We came out on the wrong side of the result, but the game gave us plenty to work on."

With five goals and 25 points in the bank from the Leinster campaign, it is pretty clear that St Sylvester's icon is working as hard as ever.

She's the pride of Malahide. A football superstar. And she does it all with such amazing grace.