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Aoife ace on Inter debut

A BIRTHDAY to remember for Aoife McEvoy, the talented Parnells footballer.

It was the club's opening Intermediate Championship assignment. It was a tough one -- away to St Margaret's.

It was Aoife's 15th birthday. She was playing at corner-back. Late in the game she ventured forward and lofted over a piece of porcelain.

"It was a banger of a point," recalled Tony Fitzpatrick, who runs the side with his son, Mark, and Martin Whelan, two of the club's senior footballers.

Aoife's ace, given the night that was in it, put the icing, the candles and the black and green ribbons on the cake.

It decorated a terrific display from Aoife. Remarkably, it's her third season playing at adult level.

Her quality is no surprise. She's the niece of the celebrated Dublin player, Niamh McEvoy, who was also on duty for the Nells.

They ventured to the North County with caution. St Margaret's have built a tidy reputation.

"It was a good win for us because Margaret's are highly rated following their success in winning the three Junior Championships on the trot," states Tony.

"We were very pleased with the performance. We really played well as a team and that was the decisive factor in the result.

"It was the perfect start for us. The Intermediate Championship is fiercely competitive.

"There's 10 teams in it, and any one of them could end up winning it. That's how tight it is.

"The girls worked very hard. It's a big, wide pitch out there, but they coped well.

"And by the way, I'd like to thank the Margaret's people for their kind hospitality. They treated us very well indeed."

Parnells have come impressively up the escalator. They are now a side to be reckoned with.

But Tony insists it's all about the future. You have to keep the juvenile orchard in full bloom.

"That's what it's all about. Our people are doing great work bringing on the underage teams.

"There's no point in having a first team full of county players if there is nothing coming after it.

"That's why we have invested so much time in developing the juveniles. And if the top team is doing well, it gives the kids something to aim for.

"It's early days yet, but it's nice to start off with a win in your first Championship match. But the way we look at it is that we are only keeping the flag flying for those that follow."

Fitz jnr and Martin Whelan have raised many a green and white flag in their time. Mark is an assured centre half-back, a leader of the pack.

And Whelo is the ideal target man. Get the delivery right and Martin will do the rest.

Tony and the lads have brought their wisdom into management. Their message to the girls is to get the performance right and let the result look after itself.