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U21s' Model ambition

DUBLIN'S U21 adventure is about to begin. They play Wexford the weekend after next.

Fintan O'Curry is the boss-man. He has his trusty minor mentors in the dugout. John Caffrey is among them.

John has seen the sport bloom and grow. "Ladies football is improving all the time. There is no doubt about that," John insists.

He sees, at first hand, the sacrifices the girls make and how their effort matches that of the lads. And the skills have also flourished with players being competent with both feet and both hands.

John knows what he's talking about. He's a Heffo's Hero. Gerry Barrett is also part of the 21 Club. He too has witnessed the progression.

Gerry collected an All-Ireland minor medal with Galway. He was on the Erin's Hope team that won the 1978 Dublin Senior Football Championship title.

He also played senior football with Whitehall Colmcille and St Sylvester's. He became one of the top referees in the capital, taking charge of the 2006 Dublin Senior Football Championship final where UCD pipped St Vincent's at a thronged Parnell Park.

Fintan and his colleagues would love to see more people at the matches. The Alex Ferguson of the sport, Cork's Eamonn Ryan, agrees.

The success of the women's rugby team has done wonders for the oval ball. Michael Corcoran at ringside in Ashbourne and Milan, and the action live on television.

Katie Taylor came home to Bray with the gold, and her fellow Wicklow wonder woman, Fionnuala Britton, is the latest is a distinguished list of Irish female super stars.

The Jackies winning the All-Ireland senior championship crown in 2010 was a massive boost to the game. The echo of that success is still being felt.

The decision to introduce a county U21 side will help on the stairway to Heaven. But win, lose or draw sell-out crowds, Fintan O'Curry will ensure his players will enjoy the trip.

And when all is said and done, and when the mud has long since disappeared off the boots, enjoyment in sport is still the greatest medal of them all.


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