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Liffey overflowing with hope for chief

LORD Mayor, Christy Burke, rolled out the blue carpet.

It's not every day you get invited to sip tea in the Mansion House.

Maybe one day the Jackies will get the freedom of the city.

Goodness knows, they have done plenty to deserve the accolade.

They are the undisputed Leinster leaders. They first won their first title in 2002.

Only three times since then have they not returned to the capital with the Leinster chalice.

Even the great Tracey Lawlor of Laois couldn't halt the Dublin Express in the Leinster final at O'Moore Park.

The Dublin full forward line of Lindsay Peat, Sinead Aherne and Lyndsey Davey scored four goals and 12 points between them that afternoon.

They was after utterly convincing wins against Kildare and Westmeath. Then came the run to the All-Ireland final. And back in May, the Dubs had reached their first Tesco Division 1 National League final.

Cork pipped them both times. But the Dublin manager, Gregory McGonigle, remains undaunted.

He has enjoyed a flourishing first year in the job. He arrived with a rich pedigree.

A fine footballer himself, and one of the top managers.

He achieved much with Monaghan. And in September, he guided Dublin to their first All-Ireland final since they lifted the trophy for the first time in 2010.

"I have always said that when you make it to the last day of the competition, you give yourself a chance," he reflects.

"And it's the same in a game situation. If you are still in the match in the last minute, you have a chance.

"If you do that, sometimes you get the breaks. And Dublin's luck will change. I'm convinced of it."

Gregory doesn't have to look far for inspiration. Eamonn Ryan is one of the all-time great managers.

In ladies football terms, he's up there with Mick O'Dwyer.

Eamonn doesn't have the look of the modern manager with the clip-board and the baseball cap.

On match day, he strolls into the ground like a fella on his way to the corner shop to buy a paper.

Yet he's a genius. And the girls would swim across the Lee for him. "Yet, it's interesting to note that Eamonn has said that he has lost more games than he has won," reveals Gregory.

Dublin only lost two games all season. The league final and the All-Ireland final. And both, by a knuckle, to one of the greatest teams to have ever graced the sport.

Gregory's reasons for optimism are well founded. The county lifted the Aisling McGing U21 All-Ireland Championship crown this year. And in emphatic style.

Several of that personnel were also on the senior crew, who have a very appealing dash of youth.

For those players, games against such a celebrated side as Cork, on the two biggest days of the year, can only enhance your football education. Going into the final, Dublin were the only undefeated team in the National League. That increased the belief.

So did finally getting over their quarter-final hoodoo as they overcame an excellent Kerry side. And then in the semi-final, they defeated an extremely impressive Galway team. In 2014, the Dubs had much to email home about. And, as the boss-man predicts, the best is yet to come.


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