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Na Fianna on final mission

THINK of Carnacon and one player comes into view -- Cora Staunton. A fabulous footballer and a remarkable athlete.

But the Mayo maestros are far too intelligent to put all their money in the one purse. They are far from a one-woman team. Even if it is Wonder Woman.

Carnacon didn't get to Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Club Championship final in Ballymahon, Longford (2.0) on one engine. And it's the same with the Dublin champs, Na Fianna.

All year, Na Fianna have looked like a side that meant business. They were the best club in the county championship by some distance.

They lifted Dublin gold for the second time. The first occasion was in 2009 when they beat MearnĂ³g by a point in a belter of a game.

This time their victory in the final against Ballyboden St Enda's was far more comfortable. But the pang of their early exit in Leinster two seasons ago stung badly.

They made up for it by collecting the Leinster crown for the first time. And what a gruelling test that was on the rain-lashed planes of Kildare.

Then they overcame the crack Cork outfit, Donoughmore, who contained another icon of the modern game, Juliet Murphy, who was honoured with the 2011 Players' Player of the Year.

The memory of that Mobhi Road afternoon still lingers. "It was such a nail-biting tussle," recalls the Na Fianna manager, Louise Kearns.



FANTASTIC

"It was so close. The girls really had to work for it.

"But now it's just fantastic to be in the All-Ireland final.

"The club is buzzing. We made history by winning Leinster for the first time and now we are in our first All-Ireland final.

"The girls deserve it. They have put in the work from the word go. They are so dedicated.

"They'd be out training two or three nights a week, and then they'd be doing their own training on top of that, in the gym or whatever. Their attitude is first-class. And we are lucky in that we have so many leaders throughout the pitch.

"There's a nice balance there too. We have experience and also girls that have come through from the minor ranks."

Louise has enjoyed the journey. She picks the team with Lyn Savage, Johnny Quinn and Peter Horgan.

"As mentors, we all have our own jobs to do, and, as a unit, it gels well. We make sure to cover all the angles," smiles Louise.

Goals from their famed All-Star, Bernie Finlay, and Muirean O'Gorman, did the trick against Donoughmore. A couple of goals against the three-time All-Ireland champs, Carnacon, would be just the ticket.

"The atmosphere for the Donoughmore match was brilliant. There were hundreds there. And we know that a few bus-loads will be making the trip to support us on Sunday. It's a huge day for the club, and indeed for Dublin ladies' football.

"At least the conditions for the semi-final were far better than they were for the Leinster final.

"Our boots are still drying out from that," quips Louise, who is hoping that the sun will come up on a big Glasnevin party on Sunday night.


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