Excellent entertainment in Intermediate Championship
The business end. Things are beginning to bubble. Championship knockout is what sells the tickets.
Last year, the Dublin Intermediate Championship final was one of the best games of all. Out in Swords, Cuala beat Castleknock by a point.
It was the bravest of efforts from Castleknock. And the quality of the match confirmed the standard in the Intermediate grade. And now Cuala are in the semi-final of the Senior Championship.
This season, Castleknock have also carried on their good form. In Group B of the Intermediate Championship. Emerging into the semi-final from a group that included St Maur’s, Ballinteer St John’s and Man O’War. They’ll now meet Skerries Harps in the last four, while St Sylvester’s will play St Maur’s in the other semi-final.
The Intermediate Championship is enhanced by quality players like Lyndsey Davey (Skerries Harps) and Sinéad Aherne (St Sylvester’s).
Playing in Division 1 had been a blessing for Castleknock. “That is a big benefit to us,” relates mentor, Peter McKenna. “We meet top teams there. And we have learnt so much from each match. It has been a brilliant experience for us.
“It was disappointing for the squad to lose the final last year. They had a great run. But those are the days that teach you so much. And it’s all about taking the lessons on board.
“Our priority is for the players to enjoy their football. That’s the most important thing. We encourage them to work hard and try to keep on improving every time they go out,” McKenna says.
“As a management, we couldn’t ask for any more from them. They are such a hard-working group. We have nine dual players. The footballers and the camogie players give great support to each other. The camogie team won the Senior 2 Championship on Sunday. Now, we’ll focus on the football.
“The Intermediate Championship is a high standard. Top sides like St Sylvester’s, St Maur’s and Skerries Harps.
“All we can do is to concentrate on ourselves. Continue to try to get the best out of ourselves. And see where that takes us.”
The Go-Ahead Dublin Senior Championship was all the better for the presence of Noelle Healy. Back flying in the St Brigid’s jersey. The club she has served so well.
They were pipped for a place in the semi-finals which will see Na Fianna play Cuala and Ballyboden St Enda’s face the champs, Foxrock Cabinteely. Two cracking matches in prospect.
Noelle was the fastest footballer in the country. A highlight of going to see the Dubs was witnessing Noelle setting off on one of those surging runs.
A run that would take her from pillar to post. Speeding past opponents. Ball in hand. Or on the tip of the toes. A sprint that would end with a score. Or open up a gate for a team-mate to profit.
When Noelle got on the ball, a hum of expectancy went around the ground. And if the space was there, she was going to burst through the half door.
So often she scorched the grass in Croke Park, Parnell Park and many other venues. Including the Banks of the Lee.
She went there to play for Mourneabbey. She changed jerseys at Mallow because of her work.
She has risen to the top of her profession. While also playing at the top of her game. And that’s the biggest lesson of all from her spell in the Dublin jersey.
She obtained a Master’s degree in time-management. It’s a deed that should be pinned up on the walls of every lecture theatre in the country. And in every class room.
She combined study and sport. The perfect mix. She studied at UCD. Where, more than most, the great Davy Billings knew the value of getting away from the books and into the boots.
This term, St Maur’s have added much to the Go-Ahead Intermediate Championship mix.
They played in Group B. And they had one of their best displays under the floodlights of the Ballinteer Community School.
Their centre-half forward, Olivia Leonard, had many a good day in the Dublin jersey.
And on a chilly Wednesday night, she treated the congregation to some memorable moments.
She knitted together so much of Maur’s best work. And created openings for the Carthy sisters, Niamh and Laura. But it was the overall industry of the side that was the striking feature.
“The players brought a good tempo to that game and it’s all about maintaining that level, and building on it now for the semi-final,” summed up mentor, Graham Cullen.
Castleknock mentor Peter McKenna is looking forward to the most exciting time of the season. He remembers all too well when the lights didn’t come on. And the terraces were silent.
“The biggest thing of all is that we can get out and play and watch football again after the lockdowns. There’s good football to enjoy, but regardless of the results, we are all in bonus territory,” he reflects.