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Fourth time lucky this year, but Dublin star hoping to end another wait in 2018

It’s early days yet, but it would be a case of fifth time lucky for Leah Caffrey if DCU were to get their hands on the O’Connor Cup next year.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

FOUR DAYS AFTER that fateful September day in Croke Park, Leah Caffrey carried the Brendan Martin Cup into her home club of Na Fianna.

A huge crowd had gathered to welcome the 2017 All-Ireland champions to the Glasnevin-based grounds, with young and old decked out in Sky Blue.

There were plenty of celebrations that week around the county, but of course this capped all for 22-year-old Caffrey.

“It was brilliant, especially for myself,” she tells The42. “It was just very special.

“There was such a good crowd there and such a good reception. The whole club was out in full force, it was so nice. All the girls, we had a great night.”

The pictures say it all. Young girls in particular gazing up at the players who had battled so hard against Mayo the previous Sunday. There they were in all their glory, proper role models who they aspire to be, standing right in front of them.

A pretty amazing feeling, Caffrey smiles, but her modesty shines through as she deflects the spotlight elsewhere.

“The underage development in the club is really good so it was great to see so many of the younger kids out,” she continues.

“I have loads of younger cousins and they were all there. It was just a great occasion for everyone.”

In terms of the final itself, it was one which had it all – four goals, a saved penalty, sin-bins, a record-smashing attendance.

But of course for Caffrey and Dublin, the result was all that mattered. As the hooter sounded, the scoreboard read 4-11 to 0-11. They had done it. It was a case of fourth time lucky as they won their second-ever TG4 All-Ireland senior title, adding to their 2010 crown.

Under the watchful eye of Mick Bohan, the Sky Blues had finally put the previous three years of hurt to bed and it was they who’d climb the steps of the Hogan Stand rather than watch on as Cork added another title at their expense.

“It was unreal to finally get over the line,” Caffrey echoes the words her teammates have uttered over and over since that day. ”We were all absolutely delighted.

“We were all still in tears. The last three years we were all bawling our eyes out, this year was no different! It was just for a different reason.

“It was absolutely brilliant. Our families and all were just overjoyed. They’re the reason we play so just delighted to get over the line for all your family and friends.”

Lydsey Davey celebrates with the Brendan Martin Cup Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was a highly entertaining and intense affair, but two goals from substitute Sarah McCaffrey, and one each from Niamh McEvoy and Carla Rowe were the difference in the end.

Dublin were relentless as the clock ran down, punishing Mayo for their indiscipline as the floodgates opened in the closing minutes.

“It was neck and neck for a lot of the game and in the last 10 minutes, we just got the goals,” Caffrey — who’s been nominated for an All-Sta this year, and already has one to her name, says.

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“The opportunities came and we took them, thankfully. We knew what we were doing going into the game. I mean it was fourth time so we had it drilled into us! It all worked out on the day and we got the performance that we wanted.”

Speaking in DCU last Thursday, the Na Fianna defender became the second WGPA scholarship recipient as she was awarded a DCU Business School Masters Scholarship.

GPA DCU Business School Masters Scholarship Programme and MBA Programme announcement Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

She’s finished an undergraduate in Science at the same university and is due to graduate next month, but she’s undertaking a Masters in Business Management this year.

With the club season drawing to a close, her attention now switches to the third level campaign.

DCU have already got their league run off the mark with a win over UCD two weeks ago, and face holders and reigning O’Connor Cup champions UL this evening, but Caffrey is yet to return to the fold after the inter-county success.

“I have to get my knee checked out,” she says. ”I’m not sure what it is. Just an ongoing thing — to sort it. I’m looking forward to getting back.”

With a host of talent in the team — Tipperary’s Aishling Moloney and Mayo’s Sarah Rowe to name but two of the impressive players in their ranks — DCU will be hoping that this is their year.

Leah Caffrey and Molly Lamb celebrate Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

Having dominated the O’Connor Cup competition and won consecutive titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011, DCU have faced a drought of sorts since then. They’ve been there or thereabouts, but haven’t went the whole way since.

This year comes as Caffrey’s fifth with the side. During her time with the Glasnevin-based college, they’ve fallen short in the final on two occasions, 2013 and 2015, so she’s hoping to finish on a high next March.

“That would be the goal now especially that it’s my last year,” she says when asked about the prospect of finally winning a coveted O’Connor Cup.

“Definitely my last year! It’d be brilliant to get an O’Connor Cup finally.

“There’s so much skill and talent in the team, it’s just about translating that and getting a good performances out of all of us, and getting us to work together as a team.”

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Emma Duffy

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