“If we get our name on that trophy, it will be unbelievable” – Keyes
Aoife Keyes of St Jude’s and Molly Walsh of Mullinahone at Croke Park ahead of the All-Ireland Ladies Junior Club Football Championship Final which sees the two sides go head-to-head in Baltinglass this Saturday. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

“If we get our name on that trophy, it will be unbelievable” – Keyes

ST JUDE’S captain Aoife Keyes is optimistic the Templeogue side can become the latest Dublin club to add their name to the All-Ireland Ladies Junior Club Football Championship roll of honour in Baltinglass this Saturday.

Following a superb victory over Ulster champions Carrickmacross at the penultimate stage last Sunday week, Jude’s are now just 60 minutes away from securing a national title for the first time in the club’s history.

Mullinahone of Tipperary will provide the opposition (throw-in 1.30pm) as the navy and blue seek to join Foxrock/Cabinteely (2007), neighbours Thomas Davis (2012) and Naomh Maur (2016) as All-Ireland junior champions.

“You can’t even let yourself think about it sometimes” Keyes told The Echo. “You don’t really ever start the season saying ‘we’re going to win the All-Ireland final’, especially when we’d never really been past Dublin.

“If we get our name on that trophy, it will be unbelievable. If we could replicate that for Dublin it would be amazing,”

For Keyes, it is simply an honour to be on a team that has already accumulated county and provincial honours en route to this weekend’s decider.

The fact that she will be doing so as team leader is an added bonus.

“Even just being on the team and playing with some of the players on our squad, it’s a privilege. Completely. To be able to say I’m the captain of the team is even better. There’s so many leaders on that team, they make my job very easy.

“There’s girls on that team that have a lot more experience than I do. I value their opinions and take it on board. Being able to lead them out on the pitch on Saturday week will be amazing. If we get to lift that trophy, it will be amazing as well.”

One player who has had a profound influence on Keyes since she first broke onto the Jude’s team is her namesake Aoife Rockett.

Although not a local player (she is a native of Waterford and a sister of Deise camogie captain Niamh), Rockett has lined out with the Wellington Lane outfit for the best part of 15 years.

Had it not been for her determination to progress the women’s section within the club, Keyes is convinced the achievements of the past few months would not have been possible.

“Aoife has been a massive part of ladies football” stressed Keyes. “The team would be nowhere without her, to be honest. She was dragging players up when none of us were even playing back in the day.

“When there was about 12 players available for a league match out in north county Dublin, dragging them across the city. We have to credit Aoife Rockett because we just wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are today.”

Despite now being an integral member of the Jude’s set-up, Keyes was something of a late bloomer.

Aoife Rockett has been an integral figure in the rise of St Jude’s ladies football team and their journey to the All-Ireland Junior Championship Final

A massive athletics enthusiast for most of her childhood, she eventually took up her current sport of choice at the age of 19.

“When I stopped that [athletics] my family were kind of like ‘well, it’s time to pick up the football’ she recalled.

“I’ve two younger sisters who are very good footballers. They were coming through the ranks for a while and then my Mum was a coach as well.”

For the two games Jude’s have played to date in the All-Ireland junior championship – a facile quarter-final win over Tir na nÓg and that aforementioned semi-final duel with Carrickmacross – there was a restriction on the number of spectators that were allowed to be in attendance.

However, those stipulations are no longer in place and Keyes is banking on the Jude’s faithful to spur them on against their Premier County opponents.

“There’ll be loads of tickets going and hopefully we’ll get buses down from Templeogue. The support for the Jude’s team has just been crazy. No matter where we were, it felt like a home match. Hopefully we’ll have the same Saturday” Keyes added.

“They [Mullinahone] are a great team. I feel like anyone who is getting to this stage is going to be tough. It’s a final, anything can happen in a final. Fingers crossed we can push through.”

Share This