Naomh Olaf in action against Whitehall Colmcilles earlier in their league campaign

NAOMH Olaf are set to take on Na Fianna this weekend in the AFL division 2 playoff final at Pairc Ui Bhriain for one of the biggest games in the club’s history.
“It’s huge,” the club’s adult games co-ordinator John McGrath told GazetteSport this week.
“We were promoted from division three last year and nobody was too sure what to expect this year. We were hoping that we could survive but, as the season wore on, our expectations grew and grew, and here we find ourselves again one game away from successive promotions to division one. That is ultimately where we want to be.”
Olafs came within a game of automatic promotion after leading the division all season before falling to Raheny in their final match, allowing Ballinteer St John’s to pip them. They got their revenge over Raheny in the playoff semi-final, however, and now have the chance to join local rivals Ballinteer at the peak of Dublin league football.
“We were beaten well by Raheny on the day,” said McGrath. “It was such a big occasion for us. I think nerves and other things got to us and we just didn’t perform well. But we gathered ourselves, regrouped and beat them. We felt we were in control in the second game a couple of weeks later from start to finish.”
Olafs beat Na Fianna early in the season but the side from Glasnevin has since recovered from their poor start to surge up the table and won the intermediate championship.
“When we beat Na Fianna, they weren’t going particularly well. But looking at them, they’ve won their last eight to 10 games so they’ve obviously got themselves together out there and regrouped. As well as that, they are winning minor and under-21 championships. Even their junior teams are performing at the business end of the season. They are a highly successful club so they won’t be short of quality players and we are expecting a very serious challenge.
“Based on what we have seen and what we know of them, they are a young, fast, fit team so we are expecting a really, really tough challenge from a team that is on a roll.”
Olafs’ senior side have impressed many with their performances over the last few years. McGrath says it is the unseen work done at underage level that has made the big difference.
“This hasn’t just come about because of what has happened this year. It has come about because of what has happened over the last decade because the real work has gone on at juvenile level,” McGrath concluded.”

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