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Ladies' Football: St Sylvester’s on the Leinster road as win puts them back in senior championship

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Leah Harrold and Grainne McGinty of St Sylvesters celebrate after the Dublin LGFA Go-Ahead Intermediate Club Football Championship Final. Pic: Sportsfile

Leah Harrold and Grainne McGinty of St Sylvesters celebrate after the Dublin LGFA Go-Ahead Intermediate Club Football Championship Final. Pic: Sportsfile

Leah Harrold and Grainne McGinty of St Sylvesters celebrate after the Dublin LGFA Go-Ahead Intermediate Club Football Championship Final. Pic: Sportsfile

The village is sleeping a little easier these days. Syls are back in the big-time. The news raised a glass in Gibney’s. And in Duffy’s on the main street.

Malahide is the most delightful of places. The Grand Hotel stands tall. Keeping an eye over the Tidy Town. The hotel where Micko’s Kerry had many an All-Ireland-winning breakfast.

The streets where Ollie Campbell sported and played. A line-out away from St Sylvester’s ornate clubhouse. And one of Ollie’s kicks away from Broomfield, the impressive base of the Syls.

As the skipper of the Syls, Danielle Lawless, declares: “My favourite ground is Broomfield. Pitch number one.” She played at centre half-back as Sylvester’s overcame Castleknock to lift the Go-Ahead Dublin Intermediate Championship title.

Now for Danielle and her team-mates, the Leinster Championship beckons. “If we get a run in Leinster, fantastic,” states Sylvester’s manager, Anthony Cooke. “But, to be honest, our big focus this year was to go back up senior. Anything after that now is a bonus.”

Anthony says he feels the squad have now acquired an extra helping of confidence. “It’s like anything in life, momentum is a big thing.

“Last season we had the negative feeling as we were relegated, but thankfully we have managed to turn that around.

“The belief grows when you start winning a couple of games. You get used to winning. And hopefully now we can take that confidence into the senior ranks.”

In recent years, the Dublin Intermediate champions have adjusted well to life on the top floor.

“Take Cuala this year,” remarks Anthony. “They won the Intermediate Championship last season and this season they went all the way to the Dublin Senior Championship semi-final.

“Teams promoted from Intermediate have done well, so, hopefully, we can follow that trend.”

As the Leinster Road beckons, St Sylvester’s, like the trains in Model Railway Museum at The Casino, are going places.

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SHE’LL be running the GOAL Mile. She has scored a few hundred, and more. Some from the spot. Is there a better penalty taker in football than Sinéad Aherne.

Taking a spot-kick is an art. Different people have different styles. St Sylvester’s won the Go-Ahead Dublin Intermediate Championship final this season.

They were awarded two first-half penalties. Sinéad scored both.

She picks her spot. And strikes the ball with precision. Not power.

For her first kick, she guided the ball low inside the right-hand post. Perfectly. When Syls were awarded a second penalty, the interesting question was what would Sinéad do.

This time, after the same short run-up, she directed her effort low to the left corner. And again, the ball nestled comfortably in the net.

Two such well-taken penalties. She made it look easy. It’s not. Even the best of them can miss a penalty.

Being composed and clinical is the ideal combination for a penalty taker. As Pele said, never look at the goalkeeper. Look at yourself. Get your own basics right.

His 1000th goal came from a penalty. And If the great man had been out in St Margaret’s on that Sunday afternoon, he would have been the first over to shake Sinéad’s hand.

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CLUB is everything. That sense of place. Parish pride. Playing for the jersey. Playing for each other. The Sylvester’s way.

All travelling on the one bus. “We always try to work as a unit,” explains manager Anthony Cooke, who is joined on the management by Noel McStay, Patrick Miskelly, Peter Hickey, Emer Cassidy, Michael Stuart and physio Eoin Sheridan.

Syls practice off the same hymn sheet. “We put a lot of effort in our approach to the game,” adds Anthony.

“When we don’t have the ball, we all work hard to get it back. And when we have it, we do our best to attack as one.”

Anthony praises the application of the squad. The players who have been there all year and the inter-county players who returned once their commitments concluded.

“We have a had a core group driving us on all season, and the inter-county players coming back in was a lift.

“The approach of the county players is brilliant. They have a very professional attitude. They put in a performance every time.

“They work so hard in training, and you can see what the club means to them. Niamh McEvoy, in her interview before the final, summed up what the club means.”

Another Dub, Kate Sullivan, excelled in the Dublin final. She has blistering pace. Speeding over the turf. Like Noelle Healy.

The Sylvester’s captain, Danielle Lawless, picks Kate out as one of her favourite footballers. “She is always pushing me to be better.”

Danielle also selects another club colleague, Niamh Harney, for mention. A footballer that sums up the heart of the village.


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