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From Junior E to All-Ireland senior club finalists: The meteoric rise of Foxrock-Cabinteely

Sarah Brophy spoke to The42 ahead of her side’s first senior All-Ireland appearance on Sunday.

Sarah Brophy: Winning would mean everything.
Sarah Brophy: Winning would mean everything.
Image: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

FOXROCK-CABINTEELY MAY not be one of the names that immediately jumps to mind when you think of the top level of ladies club football in the country.

The past few years has seen the All-Ireland senior series dominated by the same clubs over and over again, and Foxrock-Cabinteely captain Sarah Brophy is first to agree.

“I think the last couple of years you’ve always had the same names knocking around — Donaghmoyne, Mourneabbey, Carnacon — and I think beating a team like Carnacon does put you out there. People see you coming then,” Brophy tells The42.

FoxCab pulled off a huge performance to ensure a place in their first All-Ireland final, pulling off a shock against Cora Staunton’s Carnacon to book a date with the defending champions Donaghmoyne.

That semi-final was a tight affair until FoxCab wing-back Lorna Fusciardi was sin-binned; the south Dublin side responded by stepping up to score two goals in as many minutes. That was the turning point, and they held on to make club history and break the All-Ireland semi-final barrier, having lost to Donaghmoyne the previous year.

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Brophy admits her side’s relief in finally taking the next step and reaching the coveted All-Ireland final.

“Yeah it was [a relief] to get over that hurdle. That’s kinda been our story the whole way. We’d reached the Leinster final one year, then we’d gradually get to the next stage. To get past the semi-final this year, particularly the fact that it was against Carnacon, that was huge for us. We knew we were going to have to put in a big performance.

“It was like we didn’t even notice [Fusciardi] had gone off the pitch,” she says, looking back at the incident that changed the game.

“I don’t know if there was more space there, I don’t know if we just knew that we really had to lift it, but for some reason it let us out of the blocks. That’s what I was saying, it’s unusual what lifts a team.”

It’s been quite a rollercoaster story for Brophy personally. She’s been there from the start and has really climbed the ranks of Dublin club football.

“Foxrock and Cabinteely amalgamated in 2004 but I played for Foxrock since I was about nine or something. We were just Foxrock.

“We started at, I think we were actually Junior E at the time. Initially, we had one or two seasons where we physically couldn’t field a team, some of the girls played for Olafs at the time. We weren’t amalgamated with them but we could play for them.

“And then, our first year as a senior team we lost all around us. Then gradually, we won the junior All-Ireland in 2007, and after that then I suppose we just started going up.

Ladies Football All Ireland Club Championship Final Captains Day Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

“When we won the junior [county title] at Dublin, some of the girls didn’t actually know that you went any further. That was how much we didn’t know about it, we didn’t know you went into Leinster. So things have changed since then.

“If you had said to me back then that we’d be here now, I probably would have… Well I wouldn’t have known what it was probably. I would have probably laughed at you as well,” Brophy jokes.

But FoxCab have become a force to be reckoned with over the years, and they mean business.

With a management team which saw UCD to O’Connor Cup glory back in March, Pat Ring, Angie McNally and Peter Clarke are among those hoping to bring the honours back to Foxrock.

“They’ve been involved in coaching teams at the highest of levels. The more they’re doing that, the more experience they’re getting and the more they’re bringing to us. Some of the girls play for UCD as well, so winning with the same girls is going to give you experience to hopefully get over the line.”

The amalgamated side won’t have too far to travel for Sunday’s final in Parnell Park (throw-in 2.45pm), and Brophy is hoping that their support will be their 16th man and help them over the line.

“People have definitely gotten out and are getting behind us. We have our Facebook page and our Twitter and they’re constantly tweeting about the events. All the girls on the team, their friends and family have been at all the matches so we’ve had pretty good turnouts.

“We’ve been happy with it. You have the younger teams coming out as well to support us, which is also nice to see. That helps, that it’s in Parnell Park. It’s not too far of a trip.”

FoxCab know that it’s no easy task that lies ahead of them. The four-time All-Ireland and 10-time Ulster champions stand in their way in a repeat of last year’s semi-final.

Brophy recalls the day.

“It was a very tough game, it was probably the toughest game we’d had up until that point. I think we were just a bit disappointed after. I don’t think we showed up as good as we could have on the day. Disappointment was probably the biggest feeling from that game.”

However, things have changed now. FoxCab are a year older and a year wiser, and they’ve also come through fierce battles in both the Dublin and Leinster championship, and of course the semi-final victory over Carnacon.

Brophy knows it’s going to be a tooth-and-nail fight, and isn’t disillusioned by Donaghmoyne and their vast experience.

“Obviously we’re coming at the game from very different places. It’s our first year, I don’t know what year it is of theirs. But, they’re going for back-to-back. We know it’s going to be a very tough challenge, there’s probably inches between us so it’ll come down to who wants it more and who works harder on the day.

“It would just mean everything [to win], it’s the ultimate goal. We started as a club probably a little over 10 years ago, we’re a very young team, and it’s almost surreal to be here now.

“It has all happened quite quickly, to get to the highest level you can possibly get to, so it would mean everything.”

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Emma Duffy

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