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Capital gains for London as Leah Harrold targets progress

Long before making her debut with London in this year's All-Ireland junior football championship, Leah Harrold was well used to rubbing shoulders with stars of the inter-county scene.

Now a member of the Wandsworth Gaels club in the English capital, Harrold previously lined out for St Sylvester’s in her native Dublin.

Having picked up county and provincial honours in the junior grade as a teenager back in 2011, she went on to achieve the same feat with the Malahide outfit at intermediate level 10 years later and also added an All-Ireland second-tier title to her list of achievements when Syls defeated Castlebar Mitchels in a national decider in 2022.

During her lengthy stint in the adult ranks of Sylvester’s, Harrold featured alongside Dublin stalwarts such as Sinead Aherne, Niamh McEvoy, Nicole Owens and Kate Sullivan — all of whom have collected multiple All-Ireland senior crowns with the Jackies.

Given this impressive quartet are all attackers, and she was ordinarily deployed as a defender by Syls, Harrold was often provided with as much of a test in club training as she was in competitive matches.

"They’re all absolute role models. Just such unbelievable talents and such great leaders. When we’d be back in training, it’d be great. Obviously I was playing in the full-back line or the half-back line. Any of those backs/forwards drills, I might be lining up against Sinead Aherne or Kate Sullivan or Nicole Owens," recalled Harrold, who also played with Down's Kim White in Sylvester's.

"Just being able to practice marking players of that calibre, it really prepares you very well for the big games when you’re coming out into All-Ireland semi-finals, All-Ireland finals and playing Dublin senior club as well. I just learned so