St Brigid’s Deirdre Murphy in action against Westmeath in the Leinster final. Picture: Peter Hickey/GAApics.com

AHEAD of the ladies’ All-Ireland final next Sunday, full back Deirdre Murphy’s motivation will be firing, but it’s long been burning away.
As captain of the Dublin under-16 side that took home their All-Ireland title in 2010, Murphy paraded the trophy around the Croke Park pitch with her team before watching the senior side win their first – and so far only – All-Ireland title.
“I remember watching Denise Masterson lift the trophy and thinking ‘that’s going to be my one day’” Murphy said.
Four years later, the St Brigid’s was to reach the seniors, starting on the bench as Cork overturned a ten-point Dublin lead in a heart-breaking final for the Dubs in 2014.
The following year, with Dublin pipped again, she returned from her J1 in Chicago just in time for the “surreal” experience of watching another loss from the stands.
This year, she has established herself at the heart of the side and is raring to go.
“Training is tough,” she admits. “But there are several players from that Under-16 side still around me. I don’t think I’d have made it to where I am today if I didn’t have friends from St Brigid’s and from the age-group teams around me.
“Leah Caffrey, Siobhan Woods and Ciara Trant have moved up with me to the senior squad. When you’re out there pushing through the harder moments of training you need your friends. It makes all the difference.
“I’ve been around Dublin development squads since the Under-11s,” she adds. “I think they’re really important as they give lots of players a chance. It can be hard to be seen, and it also gives the players a feel for what’s there for them, the professionalism really is there.
“The senior managers always showed an interest in the development squads. It’s very much Team Dublin. It needs to be that kind of stepping stone.”
Murphy is optimistic that it will come together this year after the Dublin panel’s defeats to the same Cork side they play on Sunday over the last three years with the game looking tighter and more difficult to call than ever before.
“This year, we’re mentally tougher,” she says. “We’ve had our backs against the wall throughout the championship. The last two rounds against Mayo and Donegal have come down to the tiniest of margins, and we’ve come through. I think we’ve shown great character.
“There’s so much pride pulling on that jersey. Going to Croke Park is like going to the Colosseum. It’s electric. It feels like people are really starting to notice how good the women’s game is. They’re starting to tune in a little bit earlier in the season, and to understand that we put in the same commitment as the men.”
Should Dublin overcome their nemesis, Murphy’s progressive cycle from under-16 to senior star will be complete. Like 2010, it would involve ending five year’s of rebel county domination.