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Monica's eye Junior glory

THEY always said that the Dublin Junior Football Championship is the hardest of all to win. Many still argue the point today.

It's the chalice that St Monica's crave. It's 25 years since they last won it.

Their management team contains links to that day. Pat Finn was the manager, Rory Quinn was the captain and Bernard Fitzsimons was the goalkeeper. Bernard only hung up the gloves a couple of seasons ago.

Paul Dillon is also part of Vinnie Murphy's management crew.

"I only come on in moments of desperation," he quips. When he does, the leap to the clouds, those Bostik hands and the strike for the garage door can still teach new dogs old tricks.

Progress

Vinnie is happy with the progress at Edenmore. "We have been comfortable enough in Division 3 for the last three or four years," he says.

"Your first priority is always to stay up. We'd love to get back into the Intermediate Championship, but we have found the Junior Championship a hard nut to crack. It's grand when you are playing first teams. You know what to expect, but when you are up against, say, a club's third team, you are going into the unknown."

And such was the case last Sunday, as Monica's had to endure extra-time before pipping Na Fianna by a point, 0-17 to 1-13.

"It was a fantastic advert for junior football. It was very competitive. A really great match that was played in a tremendous spirit," said Vinnie.

That fixture underlined how difficult the Junior Football Championship road can be. "The nearest we have got in recent years has been the semi-final. We were seven points up against St Brigid's with 20 minutes to go and we lost it in extra-time. Brigid's went on to win it that season."

Spark

It being the silver jubilee of their last success, an extra spark has been added. Monica's have had several early morning training sessions where they have got a full attendance.

"Over the last few years we have had fellas going away and injuries, but thankfully now we have everybody available to us.

"We are well prepared, but we know from experience that if you don't perform on the day you are in trouble. We've been bitten before. We know we have the ability but, as always, it's all about turning that ability into performance."

Monica's have been boosted by the kind sponsorship of Permanent TSB, Raheny. Bridging that quarter-of-a-century gap would be priceless.


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