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Blue toast to silver jubilee

TWENTY-FIVE years on -- it's hard to believe. Ladies football in the capital for quarter of a century.

It was 1985 when the sails were hoisted. Ryanair had its first flight the same year.

This Friday Dublin ladies football is issuing an invitation to everyone in the audience. They are holding a celebration to mark the silver jubilee in the Robert Emmet's club in Perrystown (8.0).

No tickets required. You don't have to be formally asked; there's no charge. Just turn up on the night and there will be a welcome on the mat. There will also be plenty of food and drink on the tables.

"It's not a formal function or anything like that. It's a gathering for anybody associated with ladies football in Dublin over the last 25 years," explains Dublin chief Camillus Kilpatrick. "People can just pop in on the night, even if it's just for 15 minutes to say hello. As I say, they don't need any special invitation.

"It's fitting that Robert Emmet's are hosting the event. They were one of the three original teams back in 1985. Sadly, the two others, Rathcoole and Park Rangers, have gone.

The first meeting of the Dublin County Board took place at the Park Lodge Hotel on the North Circular Road. Rathcoole were the first Dublin champions. Mary Harney TD sponsored the Cup.

"It's nice of Emmet's to stage the function. We owe big thanks to Rhoda Kerins and all the people there," said Kilpatrick

Emmet's were one of the top clubs in the city. And they will be again. Their juvenile department is flowing nicely. They were twice runners-up before they won their first Dublin Senior Championship title in 1991. They won a second crown, beating Portobello in O'Toole Park in 1994.

Portobello then became the queens of the county. They secured five Dublin titles in succession. Gentleman Jim Boyle was the king of the Leinster Road.

Portobello's journey eventually took them all the way to an All-Ireland final. Then came Ballyboden's remarkable run. Nine Championships on the trot. That will never be done again.

All the hours and hours that the great Bill Daly spent moulding the pottery paid off. Boden became All-Ireland champions. They set the standard. And that's why the quality of the game is so good today.

Back in the '80s, Helen O'Rourke was one of the early Dublin pioneers. She's now the sport's supremo.

Many miles have been travelled. In the early days a Dublin manager complained because the squad had no football. The County Board decided to purchase one ball.

A different world to that which the Jackies now enjoy. All-Ireland glory has come at underage level, and three Senior All-Ireland finals have been reached, not to mention a gala collection of All Stars.

For Friday night Dublin secretary Eugene Egan has produced a terrific souvenir booklet recalling times past. It's well worth getting a copy.

There will be plenty to chat about. Remembering old times and looking forward to new ones. The golden jubilee will be knocking on the door soon enough.