JUST TWO YEARS after suffering relegation from Dublin’s top-tier championship, the St Sylvester’s Ladies team are preparing for an All-Ireland final.
St Sylvesters’ captain Danielle Lawless [right] is gearing up for the currentaccount.ie intermediate All-Ireland final against
Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE
Their new manager Anthony Cooke has been credited with much of their quick recovery, guiding them to an intermediate county final last October where they accounted for Castleknock to become champions.
A Leinster title followed in December after overcoming Longford Slashers before defeating Fermanagh champions Kinawley Brian Borus in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Their rapid rebirth is now just one win away from reaching the pinnacle of this grade and earning a shot at redemption in the senior ranks.
“He [Cooke] came in with new ideas and it’s something that we all kind of needed,” says St Sylvester’s captain Danielle Lawless ahead of the decider clash with Castlebar Mitchels on Sunday.
“He’s just been phenomenal, the hard work he’s put in on and off the pitch.”
“I suppose we were kind of struggling with numbers.
“We had a few people leave the team, going away or working. I just don’t think the commitment was there and I just think Covid was a bit of a blessing in disguise.
“People got a break from football and a break from the disappointment and we came back fresher than ever, and this year has just been unbelievable.”
St Sylvester’s is blessed with inter-county talent. Sinéad Aherne, Niamh McEvoy, Nicole Owens and Kate Sullivan are four Syls players representing their native Dublin, while defender Kim White plays for the Down Ladies.
Aherne, McEvoy and Owens have played key roles in the Dublin side who who narrowly fell short of completing an All-Ireland five-in-a-row last year.
Unsurprisingly, their input is at the core of St Sylvester’s impressive progress through this year’s championship. In the All-Ireland semi-final, Aherne and Sullivan combined for 3-6 to help their side to a 12-point victory.
“She’s [Aherne] been on form all season and we can always rely on her. And the five other girls up front can be relied on as well so they all compliment each other.”
Remarking on the overall impact of all of St Sylvester’s inter-county contingent, Lawless adds:
“Just the experience that they bring to our team and new ideas. They’re always willing to help the girls and they improve us. We miss them when they’re gone but when they come back, we all compliment each other so it’s massive to have five superstars on our team.”
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Lawless describes the All-Ireland final as “uncharted territory” for Syls some 10 years on from their last great milestone when the club reached a Leinster final.
They don’t know much about their opponents Castlebar Mitchells, preferring instead to focus on their own strengths and what they can achieve as a team.
“We haven’t really thought about it. Winning the All-Ireland semi-final hasn’t even sunk in yet and I don’t think it will until the whistle blows and we’re standing on a pitch in an All-Ireland final. But it would mean a huge amount to our town.
“The support was phenomenal when we won Dublin and Leinster. I know that’s going to continue to the final so it will mean a huge amount to the community but definitely to the girls as well. We’ve never been here before.
“As a team, we’ve gotten a lot closer. We’ve all gone through this together so it’s been really good.”
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