BLUEBELL UNITED have finally secured a long-awaited Leinster Senior League title, their first since 1987, having led the Sunday Senior’s top tier of Leinster intermediate football almost from start to finish.
The free scoring Leinster Senior Division side hit 51 goals in 24 league games this season, and wrapped up the trophy to end their 28-year wait for this success.
It rendered last Sunday’s clash with arch rivals Crumlin on Sunday as a dead rubber, as they were no longer able to bridge the gap to Andy Noonan’s Bluebell side despite a number of games in hand.
“We’ve been near enough for a few years, but this year things really came together,” Noonan told GazetteSport.
“It’s been the strength of squad, as well as key experience in the backroom staff and some experienced players that have helped us through.”
While their season has largely been a domineering one, Noonan’s side looked to be wobbling towards the end of April and early in May after suffering a number of injuries and suspensions.
Still, the manager never really doubted his side’s title credentials.
“I’ve used 39 players this season, and every player knows there’s competition for their place,” Noonan said. “We had about eight players out through injury and suspension, including most of the defence. Every club has their blips but I wasn’t worried; I knew they’d come back, and I knew we’d pull together.”
Bluebell performed when it counted, turning around their dip in a season-defining 4-1 win against Drumcondra on Wednesday, June 6. That result ended their poor sequence and saw the Red Cow side go undefeated until last Sunday, when it no longer mattered.
“It’s big for the club,” Noonan said. “It’s difficult to know just what it means yet, as it’s not a situation we’ve been in before. I will lose players to the League of Ireland, but we’ve always lost two or three. It’s a key part of who we are.
“Players see us as a platform. I’d rather sign young players who want to progress to League of Ireland, who show ambition. Losing them is part of that, and show potential new players that we’ll help them progress.
“As for next season, we have a couple more games first. We’ll wait for the close season to take a breather and assess, but I’d be happy to go into next season with the squad I have now.”
Noonan himself has a UEFA B-license, and might be looking to manage in the League of Ireland in the longer term. For now, though, he’s more than content with progress.
“I took a couple of players down to the Crumlin v Drumcondra game for my own viewing pleasure,” he told us. After 28 years, it was a pleasure hard earned.