‘It doesn’t feel like it’ – A remarkable 13th Leinster medal for Dublin’s captain fantastic

September 19, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

A 13TH LEINSTER medal in 16 senior inter-county seasons isn’t bad going.

Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne helped Dublin to provincial glory for the 13th time in her career two weeks ago, as the Sky Blues made it eight in-a-row. 

Leader: Sinéad Aherne.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

While Aherne was an early withdrawal through injury, Mick Bohan’s side were 13-point winners over a gutsy Westmeath side in the end, their late goals putting a gloss on the victory. On which Aherne’s name went hand-in-hand with, and her outstanding piece of history.

The 2018 Player of the Year is not a fan of the limelight however, deflecting plaudits and praise when the remarkable achievement and that title number 13 is brought up.

“It’s mad, it doesn’t feel like it every year you go out,” 33-year-old Aherne tells The42 at the launch of the TG4 All-Ireland championships earlier this week.

“I know it’s only been ourselves and Westmeath in the championship for the last couple of years. When I actually see the pictures inside of some of the earlier championship launches, the number of teams that were in Leinster and the amount of games that we used to play, it’s certainly changed.

I think it’s great to still have a cup to challenge for in the season. To collect any piece of silverware or any medal is something that you’ll look back on. For the moment it’s just on to the next.

She’d much rather focus on the upcoming job at hand but unfortunately for Aherne, she’ll likely have no part to play in their All-Ireland series opener against Waterford in Portlaoise today.

  • Season 16, and Dublin star Aherne is enjoying life in the fast lane more than ever 

It may have been unlucky number 13, with the St Sylvester’s scoring star sustaining a nasty-looking shoulder injury in that Leinster final. She left the field with 12 minutes played at Netwatch Cullen Park, and had a brace on — but a smile on her face — for the trophy presentation afterwards.

Source: Dublin LGFA Twitter.

Thankfully, it isn’t as bad as initially feared with surgery ruled out and Bohan confirming it’s a “partial dislocation”. Aherne herself was upbeat speaking about it, forecasting “a couple of weeks rehab and I’ll be grand again”.

She’s included in the squad for the Déise match today, but it’s more likely she’s targeting a return against Monaghan in their second Group 2 encounter on 27/28 July.

One thing’s for sure though: she’s glad the wheels are in motion and championship football is underway once again.

It’s funny, it comes up so slowly and yet then all of a sudden, as soon as it kicks off there’s no time to breathe nearly,” the back-to-back All-Ireland winning skipper says.

“Look, we were rusty the first day out. We’re probably behind Waterford in that aspect in terms of if they have a few more games under their belt [in Munster championship]. We’ve obviously taken some things out of the Westmeath game. It’s good to just get started as well.

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“Obviously we’re delighted with the win but I’m sure both teams were just happy to kick it off at that stage. Waterford next and then pretty soon after, into Monaghan. We’re just hoping we’ve picked up a bit of form from the last couple of weeks in training, and hopefully we hit the ground running.”

From their league semi-final replay exit to Cork on 21 April to the Leinster final on 30 June, it was a long wait for competitive action.

Signing a jersey after last September’s All-Ireland final win.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The layover is a killer, as has been noted many times throughout the week, but Aherne would rather focus on the positives and the fact that everything’s back to full swing once again.

“You can play as many challenge matches or club games or whatever it is, but there’s no substitute for getting out there and playing championship,” she notes.

“Look there was probably a bit of first day nerves and cobwebs [in the Leinster final], we had a few younger girls out as well on the day. It’s good to get started and hopefully kick on.”

“I think it would be very difficult to just go from one game in Leinster into an All-Ireland quarter-final with probably a four-week break,” she concludes on the current All-Ireland series structure, which was revamped last year.

“It’s very, very difficult to generate momentum off that. We’re delighted to be in competitive group and to challenge ourselves.

“Hopefully we’ll get two wins and come out on top.”

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