Dublin’s Muireann Ní Scanaill relishes ‘sweet’ end to a long year

‘It was a different kind of atmosphere with no crowd . . . but it didn’t take away from the occasion either’

Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne (left) and Muireann Ní Scanaill make their way to Hill 16 to place a wreath in memory of those killed in Croke Park 100 years ago. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne (left) and Muireann Ní Scanaill make their way to Hill 16 to place a wreath in memory of those killed in Croke Park 100 years ago. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

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After the Dublin ladies claimed a fourth TG4 All-Ireland senior championship in a row on Sunday, they took a moment out of their celebrations to lay a wreath on Hill 16 in memory of those killed on Bloody Sunday a century ago.

Captain Sinéad Aherne was joined by Muireann Ní Scanaill for the ceremony, with one of Ní Scanaill’s fifth-class students at Gaelscoil Bhrian Bóroimh in Applewood a descendent of Jane Boyle, the only woman killed that day.

“After the men had laid their wreath to mark November 21st, Mick [Bohan, Dublin manager] mentioned it at training. He asked the group did anybody know that Jane Boyle was the only lady that died on the day,” said Fingallians player, Ní Scanaill.

“I just said ‘yes, I did know that because there is a girl in my class who is Jane Boyle’s great-great-great grand niece’. It’s a very distant connection but we had been discussing it with the class.

“Nobody else spoke up, so Mick asked if I’d like to place the wreath with Sinéad Aherne on the All-Ireland final day.

“It was great just to speak about it, remember the people who passed away and things that happened on the day. I think it is just amazing to have some link back to that time.

“One hundred years isn’t that far away from us and it is important to remember the time that we’ve had and how significant Croke Park is for so many people in Ireland and how special a place it is. It’s important to remember our roots, where we all came from.”

After the longest season in memory, Ní Scanaill and her team-mates are delighted to face into Christmas with a fifth All-Ireland senior title for the county to celebrate. Coming the day after the men won their sixth All-Ireland in a row crowned a dream weekend for the county, with defeat to Galway in the under-20 football decider the only disappointment.

Unlike previous years, there was no winners’ banquet to enjoy after their All-Ireland success, but the Dublin players and backroom team got together for a meal to celebrate together, and mark a unique victory.

“It was a nice evening. It was a special one, it was just nice to be celebrating at the end of a very difficult time for everyone. But it was sweet,” admitted the 24-year-old Ní Scanaill. “We went for a meal together afterwards and we kind of toasted the evening. It was nice just to be able to mark the occasion together in some sort of a way.

“[Coping with Covid-19] was an extra worry for us. You can’t really help it either. I was going to work in a room with 28 kids, and there was an extra burden to carry for everyone. We were all in it together though and we came out the right side of it. It’s nice to be able to be celebrating today and for it all to be worthwhile.

“The whole experience was very different. Obviously we knew the importance of the game and the team was very prepared for a tough battle against Cork. It was an All-Ireland final day and we knew it was. It was a different kind of atmosphere with no crowd, it definitely changed the dynamic, but it didn’t take away from the occasion either.

“Speaking with my family afterwards, they were just as enthusiastic as ever, roaring at the telly at home. They told me they had a good time watching the match anyway. It was nice that they were able to see it at least, and that they were able to be part of it in some sort of way.”

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