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Cultured Carla in a Clann of her own

THE timing was perfect. So was the strike.

Dublin against Galway in the TG4 All-Ireland semi-final in Mullingar.

The ball reaches Carla Rowe out wide on the left. She takes a couple of strides and……bang.

The roof of the net is lifted. The Dublin crowd are on their feet. The Jackies are on their way to the All-Ireland final.

They'll play Cork in Croke Park on Sunday week, September 28th. Dublin's talented number 12 will add to the spectacle.

She is having a memorable season. She helped Dublin to win the Aisling McGing All-Ireland U-21 Championship in the summer, and now the big day awaits.

"It was brilliant to win the U-21 title. Hopefully now, we add the senior title," she says.

In the U-21 campaign, Carla was part of a celebrated forward-line that compiled a high harvest. Nicole Owens, who hit a hat-trick of goals in the final, and the captain, Siobhan Woods, were her full-forward colleagues.

They beat Meath in the final at Clane. Carla was top of the left and at the top of her game.

She scored 1-3. "The girls performed so well on the day. The U-21's were training with the seniors all during the year, so that was good preparation.

"It meant that we faced tough opposition on the training field, and that stood to us in the games. It helped to give us the upper hand."

In 2012, Carla was on the Dublin side that secured the All-Ireland Minor Championship title.

And this summer came another highlight when her club, Clann Mhuire, earned Dublin Junior A Championship glory.

They beat Naomh Maur in the final in Parnell Park. Carla was outstanding.

She played at midfield. She was the heartbeat of the team.

She scored 1-6 herself and was involved in so much of Mhuire's best work. Manager, Gerry Barrett, knows class when he sees it.

This is Carla's first full season on the Dublin senior team. "For two years previously, I was brought into the squad at the quarter-final stage of the championship.

"Senior level is very intense. It's tough, physical training.

"But I remember we trained very hard with the minors. It wouldn't be far off the senior training, so that helped the step-up."

Carla displayed her quality in the Leinster Championship, excelling with her pace and drive down the left.

In Dublin's opening game against Kildare, she scored two points. She followed that up with 1-1 against Westmeath and Laois.

Her two points against Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final were also valuable, while that goal against Galway helped to change the climate in Cusack Park.

She highly rates Bernard Brogan, and Carla's thundering finish against the Tribeswomen would have done him justice.

A goal or two against Cork at HQ would be something special. But easier written than done.

Dublin know all about the Cork pedigree. Cork beat the Dubs in the National League Division 1 final at Parnell Park this term.

Finding space against such a formidable defence won't be easy, but Carla will have the whole of the North County cheering her on.

She is just thrilled to be part of it all. "A lot of young players have come onto the squad, and that pushes everybody to perform better.

"Good competition is always a positive thing."