‘What drove them was the beatings. There’s something about those days…they’ll never forget’

AFTER LOSING THREE All-Ireland TG4 ladies footbal finals in-a-row, Dublin have confirmed their status as the game’s dominant force with four titles in succession.

When 2021 comes around, the Drive for Five talk will begin in earnest.

For now though, Sky Blues boss Mick Bohan was happy to bask in the achievement of their lastest success. 

“It’s incredible,” he said. “I know we probably get thrown in on the back of the lads’ success a little bit.

“I’m sure to people looking in from the outside that grates probably a little bit but ultimately Dublin have won five All-Irelands ladies titles in their history. It just happens that this group has set the standard and that’s obviously terrific.”

Before he took over for his second stint, the 2010 victory was their sole All-Ireland win in the county’s history. Bohan has now led Dublin to 21 successive championship victories.

“I think what drove them to that situation was the beatings because there’s certainly something about those days that, as long as they play together, they’ll never forget,” he said.

“In an empty stadium it’s kind of surreal but there’s a massive satisfaction in being successful this year.

“Because so many of us, all of us in our own lives and then obviously adding onto that our sporting lives, so many challenges are thrown at you and I just think it’s something that in time to come they’ll sit back and reflect on and see as one of their greatest achievements.”

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The showpiece game of ladies football has traditionally record-breaking crowds for female sporting events in recent years, but Covid ruled that out this time around.

The significance of Dublin laying a wreath at the Bloody Sunday memorial in the corner of the Hill 16 end was not lost on the Sky Blues manager either.

“Even simple things like this evening, for us as Gaels getting the opportunity to go over and recognise the people who were lost on Bloody Sunday because that’s all part of what we are – if we don’t know where we came from how do we know where we’re going to go.

“So they’re all things, like, we’re massively proud of those opportunities and that’s Irish people, Gaelic games is our sport and you get an opportunity in a stadium like this. But I mean how weird is it?

Mick Bohan speaks to his team after the game.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“So quiet, ghostly almost. It’s only when you realise that that you see how much emotion plays a part in our games because in a full stadium or with 60,000 people the reaction from the crowd to a great score or a block or an interception, it’s almost met with a ripple of applause here, and that’s just the nature of it.

“But at the same time there was something up for grabs and for sportspeople who try to excel at that level, they’re always still striving to be the best.”

After a poor first-half showing, when they scored just twice from open play, Dublin were far more clinical in the second period.

They owned the ball after the restart and won by 1-7 to 0-2 – with Carla Rowe’s penalty proving pivotal.

“Realistically we didn’t play well in the first opening quarter,” admitted Bohan.

“We made loads of mistakes, they came with an intensity and a fervour that really puts the competition up for grabs, so to wrestle that off them…I felt we controlled the second-half, that was hugely pleasing.

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“Particularly pleasing in the season we’ve had because it’s obviously a much shortened season and there’s a lot of stuff you’d normally get covered that we may not have covered.

“Look we felt they’d real energy in a couple of places we hadn’t snuffed out so tactically we made a couple of switches to negate that but also our intensity went up, the tackle count rose significantly and just trying to take away that little bit of think time from your opponents.

“That was key and we made better decisions on the ball we were disappointed in the first half the times the final pass or foot pass was going astray and you are refuelling your opponents.”

Of Rowe, who grabbed 1-3 all from placed balls, he said: “Carla, as she did in the Armagh game, stood up and took the responsibility of those clutch moments.

“You don’t really know until you step up whether that’s in the armoury but we’ve seen that development from her over the last season or two where she’s just become a leader in the group.”

Losing Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald accepted they were beaten by the better side and pointed to Dublin’s superior fitness levels.

“They put massive pressure on. They showed that level of experience and physicality that they have, they are definitely the strongest team in the country.

“That was a huge factor. We also missed a few chances in the first-half, a few goal chances.

“We are still a work in progress. They are a seasoned, hardened, fantastic football team. Their level of conditioning and the place they can play at is very, very high, so it is hard to reach that, but that is what we are striving for.

“You have to accept that Dublin an exceptionally good team, as well. Most of those Dublin girls are together for the bones of 10, 12 years. They have so much conditioning and so much know how, they know how to finish matches.”

Dublin’s Sinead Goldrick drives past Orla Finn of Cork.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was Cork’s second time to lose the decider to Dublin in three years, but Fitzgerald was steadfast in his pride for his players.

“I can’t say any more only that I am proud of my own gang,” he stated.

“All in all, we asked the girls for honesty of effort and they gave us that. Nobody likes losing, but at the end of the day, you have to be proud of the effort that they made, particularly in the year that is in.

“It is very hard to put into words the amount of effort the girls have put in to even make it here today. When you look at the geographical size of Cork, it is very, very difficult to get everybody together for training and keep them safe and that.

“They are gutted, of course, they are. I just said to them that my main concern is that they’ll get home safe to their families and try and enjoy the Christmas and we’ll look at next year next year.”

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