Much is made of Dublin's dominance in Leinster in men's football, but the lack of competition in the province in the ladies game is also quite startling.
In August 2019, the Westmeath ladies footballers were relegated from the All-Ireland senior ladies football championship, following defeat to Monaghan, leaving Dublin as the only county in Leinster playing senior ladies football.
A month later, Meath lost to Tipperary in the All-Ireland Intermediate final last September, the same day that Dublin won their third consecutive All-Ireland. This ensured that for 2020, there was to be no Leinster Senior Ladies Championship.
However, to their credit, both Westmeath and Meath have produced some excellent performances in the 2020 championship and will meet in the All-Ireland Intermediate final this Sunday at 1:15pm in Croke Park. The match will be a curtainraiser as Dublin go for their fourth All-Ireland in a row.
Westmeath captain Fiona Claffey is in her 17th year of representing her county. She knows a lot about what other counties can learn from Dublin. Since 2012, she has played her club football, with Foxrock-Cabinteely in Dublin, who dominate the capital's club scene.
Claffey previously played with Kilbeggan Shamrocks in Westmeath and she feels the club structures in Dublin are excellent.
"Obviously population-wise and where everyone’s located. The club championship in Dublin is run particularly well. Games are set out in stone.
"It’s built around the county team. Because most people who play for Dublin are based in Dublin, you can play games on a Wednesday evening. The club championship is very well structured and run really efficiently. League and cup games are on during county season.
"There’s constantly games being played. I think down the country, you’ve girls in college, girls who work away. I think having that set structure in club, really helps to develop on into county level.
"I think the club championship is a very high standard in Dublin. Every games very competitive. I think that kind of feeds in. There’s a huge pool of players to pick from. Numbers are there at u14 trials in Dublin. At the same time, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.
"I think all teams in Leinster are trying to get to those standards and develop the club championships. You can see a lot more promotion around the country, in terms of club championships in Westmeath and all around the place.
"I think the good club structure is definitely something that can be reflected down the country and I think that it’s definitely something that they are looking at," Claffey said.
'The support is there, there's still a huge buzz around it'
Tá Fiona Claffey & foireann @WestmeathLadies ar bís faoi imirt i bPáirc an Chrócaigh ar an Domhnach.
Get behind your team ahead of the @TG4TV Finals!
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— Leinster LGFA (@LeinsterLGFA) December 15, 2020
Claffey remarked how the standard of her club training with FoxCab is comparable to an inter-county team and is pleased that there will be a Leinster Championship in 2021.
"Our club team is very, very strong. The standard at training is huge. It’s comparable to inter-county standard. Personally at club championship level in Leinster, we face a lot of tough opponents.
"There’s a lot of good clubs around Leinster. We’ve been on the winning side of it the last couple of years and obviously Dublin ladies have been in the Leinster Final. As we mentioned earlier, Leinster’s continuing to develop.
"There’s a lot of teams that have had to rebuild. Ourselves, Meath and Kildare, we’re all kind of coming up there and Dublin have set a really high bar. It’s great that they’re such a high bar set. All teams around the country are trying to get up to those standards.
Bí i do #ProperFan
Watch all the action from the @LadiesFootball All-Ireland Final this Sunday on TG4.
Go n-éirí leis na foirne ar fad.
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— TG4TV 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@TG4TV) December 17, 2020
"I don’t see any reason why we can’t get there. I think more teams getting up to senior in Leinster is only going to help that. After this Sunday there will definitely be a second team and hopefully the following year another team will follow up to," she said.
Claffey will aim to pick up her second All-Ireland Intermediate medal, having been part of the Westmeath team who lifted the trophy in 2011.