NOELLE Healy says that the unavailability of talismanic forward Sinead Aherne could open the door for the next generation of Dublin ladies footballers as they start their 2015 season in earnest next Sunday.
They take on Monaghan in round one of the National League Division 1 in DCU next Sunday, looking to begin the journey to go one better than 2014 when they were ousted in the final by Cork.
For the first time in a dozen years, four-time All-Star Aherne is not likely to feature due to being on her travels. St Brigid’s Healy has dove-tailed particularly well with her in recent years and while she says Aherne will be missed, she believes that there is always the potential for a new star to rise.
“Sinead [Aherne] will be a big loss,” she told GazetteSport. “She is a fantastic player and has played 12 years straight with Dublin. But last year, we never relied on one player; it is always whoever is in the right position, you give them the ball.
“She is a really intelligent player and knows the right thing to say to be a leader on the pitch and in the dressing room. As such, people will need to step up but there are a lot of young players who will see the opportunity to have a bigger say and that can be a really good thing.”
“All three forwards play a very quick game, give and go, passing the ball so we will probably play a similar running game that we like to play. Nicole Owens and Eabha Rutledge – who has come up from minor – has done really well in the games and training. So even though Sinead has gone, there is still competition. It will give them a big chance.”
As for the league itself, Healy says a number of sides will be gunning for glory this year with Armagh and Cavan ones to watch out for as well as the traditional powerhouses.
Cork denied Dublin in both the league and the All-Ireland final but Healy adds that they cannot just focus on trying to get one over on their arch-rivals.
“You can’t just keep an eye on Cork because something else will come and trip you up. Armagh have a new management and will be trying to impress, and other teams are similar so you really just have to go one game at a time and, hopefully, we will do as well as we did last year in the league; then we focus on the Leinster championship and so on.”