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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 1 April, 2020

Super Sunday! How Clare Conlon won the FAI Cup and a Leinster GAA title on the same day

Yesterday was a big day for both Raheny United and Sarsfields Mountmellick — and Clare Conlon played her part for both.

Raheny United celebrated in the Aviva Stadium -- but by that stage, Clare Conlon was playing her second final of the afternoon.
Raheny United celebrated in the Aviva Stadium -- but by that stage, Clare Conlon was playing her second final of the afternoon.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CLARE CONLON HAD twice as many reasons to celebrate last night after she pulled off a unique trophy double.

Conlon and Raheny United clinched the FAI Women’s Cup with a dramatic extra-time win against UCD Waves.

But before the final whistle had even blown in the Aviva Stadium, the 28-year-old was making a mad dash for Clane where she helped her club Sarsfields Mountmellick lift the Leinster Ladies Football Senior Club title.

“I’m a bit tired and a bit sore but I’m walking two foot taller today which is an achievement for someone of my height,” Conlon told this afternoon.

“I got up yesterday morning and went out with Raheny for the usual matchday morning stuff. I was named to start at left-full and then came off after about an hour.

“I had a quick word with my manager [Casey McQuillan] to explain the situation and he just smiled and said to go.

“I had the car parked in the Aviva Stadium in case the situation arose so I took off for Clane where the Leinster final was being played.

I arrived about five minutes before half-time, got changed out of the Raheny gear, into the Sarsfields gear, and the rest as they say is history.

Clare Conlon and Natasha Harding Conlon in action for Raheny during the Women's Champions League last month. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Katie McCabe’s stunning free kick had given holders Raheny an early lead over UCD but Aine O’Gorman’s equaliser meant that, as Conlon bolted for Kildare, the game was still level and heading for extra-time.

“I was watching the RTÉ player all the way down in the car — I didn’t drive myself, just to put that on the record.

It’s about 40 minutes down so I was drinking water, Lucozade, eating bananas and doing whatever I could to try to keep the legs from getting stiff.

Just as Conlon prepared to go on, her mind was put at ease by Siobhan Killeen’s winner to clinch the Pandas’ three-in-a-row.

“I was still watching the cup final on the sideline when I was waiting to go on.

Siobhán scored just as I was going on so that certainly helped to settle the nerves.

Despite a late goal from Dublin champions Na Fianna, Sarsfields held on to win by 1-9 to 1-7 and set up an All-Ireland semi-final clash against Mourneabbey of Cork on 16 November.

Fortunately, Conlon explains, Raheny don’t have a game in the Women’s National League that weekend and so there will be no commitment clash for a change.

Both Raheny boss McQuillan and Sars manager Alan George have been very understanding of her hectic schedule, she explains.

All season she has been juggling soccer training on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with GAA sessions on a Friday and Sunday morning — the latter often before going to play a match with Raheny.

“I wouldn’t do anything too intense on a Sunday. It’s more for Alan to see my face.”

The hard work and mad dashes paid off yesterday in quite special circumstances.

When the final whistle went — for a second time — it was back to Dublin to join the Raheny party, and then back to her day job as grassroots administrative assistant with the FAI this morning.

Her season doesn’t stop here. It’s only getting started.

– First published 14.41

Hawk-Eye set for three more GAA grounds after proving its worth on All-Ireland day

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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