Foxrock-Cabin­teely within touch­ing dis­tance of the ul­ti­mate prize Mary Han­ni­gan

Only formed in 2005, to­day the Le­in­ster king­pins bid for se­nior glory

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - GAELICGAMES -

Foxrock-Cabin­teely v Mourne­abbey Par­nell Park, to­day, 5.15pm Live on TG4

It was when she got an email from Marla Can­don last week that Amy Ring sat back and had a think about Foxrock-Cabin­teely’s jour­ney since she be­gan play­ing Gaelic foot­ball two decades ago.

Now 28, she will cap­tain the team in to­day’s fi­nal against Cork’s Mourne­abbey, putting a club that didn’t even ex­ist 14 years ago within touch­ing dis­tance of the ul­ti­mate prize.

“And some­times you do have to step back from it all to ac­tu­ally ap­pre­ci­ate what we’ve done,” says Ring. “I just thought, ‘God yeah, we’ve come a long way’.”

Can­don, who cap­tained the club to All-Ire­land junior suc­cess in 2007, told Ring how proud she was of her and her team-mates for tak­ing Foxrock-Cabin­teely to the level they’ve now reached, hav­ing won the Dublin and Le­in­ster se­nior ti­tles for the last four years.

“It meant a lot com­ing from Marla, she was there right from the start and was some­one we all looked up to.”

Ring and three other school­girls, Sinead Goldrick, Ni­amh Collins and Amy Con­nolly, all of whom went on to be­come key play­ers for Dublin, were in the team that day and, 11 years on, will line out again to­day as they at­tempt to land the se­nior club ti­tle for the first time.

Win­ners

It would make them just the sec­ond Dublin club to achieve the feat, Bally­bo­den St En­das, in 2005 and 2006, the only pre­vi­ous win­ners from the county.

Back in 2007, the ‘Fox-Cab’ girls were some­thing of an odd­ity in their south Dublin neck of the woods, hockey and bas­ket­ball be­ing the chief sports in most of the sec­ondary schools in the area.

“We didn’t even have a Gaelic foot­ball team in school,” says Ring, “so girls who would have played with the club gen­er­ally gave up the foot­ball once they went to sec­ondary school where the fo­cus was mainly on hockey and bas­ket­ball.”

Hockey re­mains the chief sport­ing ri­val in the area. “It’s still a bit of a black spot for GAA,” says Amy’s fa­ther Pat, a Cork man who has been liv­ing in Dublin since 1984 and who was one of the founders of the club. With Peter Clarke, Ring makes up the cur­rent man­age­ment team, the pair hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked with the Dublin, Mon­aghan and Mayo women’s teams.

“Hockey is a huge chal­lenge for us. It’s mas­sive, and the Ir­ish team’s suc­cess in the World Cup will only make it big­ger. Most of our girls ei­ther go to Loreto Foxrock or Holy Child Killiney and they’re all hockey. We’ve lost four key play­ers to hockey in the last while, they were all top-class foot­ballers but they had to give it up, they just couldn’t fit it all in.

“It’s not that easy to ne­go­ti­ate with the hockey au­thor­i­ties, they can be quite strict on their play­ers, whereas it’s a lit­tle eas­ier with the soc­cer. Roisín McGovern [who scored the team’s win­ning goal in the semi-fi­nal against Don­agh­moyne] is a soc­cer in­ter­na­tional – we give a bit, they give a bit, ev­ery­one wins.”

But de­spite the chal­lenges, the club, which was formed when Foxrock and Cabin­teely merged in 2005, is thriv­ing, largely due to the work it has put in with lo­cal schools.

“We have 22 teams now,” says Pat Ring. “They start at age five, five to eight is our nurs­ery and we have 150 girls in ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing. That’s huge, that’s a big an­i­mal in it­self to feed.

‘Part­ner­ships’

“We played our first games in 2005 and then in ’06 we started build­ing up very close part­ner­ships with the three girls pri­mary schools in our catch­ment area, St Pa­trick’s in Hol­ly­park, St Brigid’s in Cabin­teely and John­stown in Killiney. I do a lit­tle bit of coach­ing one day a week in each of the schools. What do we get out of it? We get the re­cruit­ment. It’s a part­ner­ship that works re­ally well and works both ways.”

“It’s im­por­tant too that the club is run well. I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but we do man­age it, we have a healthy bank-bal­ance. We try and keep a sur­plus there for a rainy day. You see so many GAA clubs get­ting in to debt, and then hav­ing problems with Nama and so on. We’re never go­ing to go down that road.

“We keep our op­er­a­tion tight, but our teams, par­tic­u­larly our se­nior team, are well-funded. It would cost us ¤10,000 or ¤12,000 a year to run this team but the play­ers bring in half through fundrais­ing, and then the club would come up with the other half.

“It works re­ally well. We have our own pitches in Cabin­teely. And we have a num­ber of spon­sors, we have so many peo­ple in­volved in the club. We get do­na­tions all the time. A fella rang me the other night and said he put ¤300 into the club ac­count. You get that lo­cal stuff and it gen­er­ates good­will. That pays for the bus next Satur­day, it’s marvel­lous.”

“And I wouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of it be­ing a ladies only club ei­ther, that was key, it made us fairly unique, most teams would be at­tached to a men’s club whereas with us all our ef­forts go in to the ladies’ teams, there’s no com­pe­ti­tion there. That’s a huge plus.”

With six of the team on the Dublin se­nior panel and an­other five with the county’s mi­nors, Foxrock-Cabin­teely have played no small part in Dublin’s suc­cess in re­cent years, al­though long-stand­ing ten­donitis problems with her knees forced Amy Ring to step away from in­ter­county foot­ball two years ago.

“It was a tough de­ci­sion but club was al­ways num­ber one,” she says. “If it meant step­ping back from Dublin in or­der to get an­other two or three years play­ing for club, then it was worth it all day long. I’ve played with some of these girls since un­der-10s, we’ve grown up to­gether, so this means more than any­thing. “We have of­ten talked about leav­ing a legacy, leav­ing the club in a bet­ter place than when we started, and I think we’re do­ing that. Yeah, we’ve come a long way.”

With six of the team on the Dublin se­nior panel they have played no small part in Dublin’s suc­cess

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