Dubs shape their own history in truly rare auld times
‘The same love for football was there in 2014, we just weren’t playing as smartly’
Dublin footballers (from left) Muireann Ni Scanaill, Niamh Collins, Lauren Magee, Sinéad Aherne, Lyndsey Davey and Sinéad Goldrick show Maya Kulendran, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, the Brendan Martin Cup at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Dublin footballers still exist on Capel Street. Moments before stepping into the great beyond that is The Boar’s Head, Sinéad Goldrick returns the call using Sinéad Finnegan’s phone.
The defenders had just returned from Our Lady’s Children’s hospital in Crumlin – “a place that instantly brings you back down to earth” – still buoyed by the memory from the night before of what their captain, the other Sinéad, told them all.
“Sinéad (Aherne) had us in tears,” said Goldrick. “She just has a way with words, speaks very softly and quietly but she’s that kind of person: when she talks everyone listens.”
Here resides the ruthless kind of people Cork football once knew so well. Each Sinéad survived the 2014 capitulation at the hands of the greatest women’s Gaelic football team of all time.
Four years ago it was Cork reeling in Dublin’s 10-point lead with 10 minutes to play. Sunday past it was Dublin who blocked the faintest chink of Rebellious light from pouring into Croke Park.
Yet 2014 remains an integral part of Dublin’s rise to utter dominance.
“The same passion and love for the sport was there, we just weren’t playing as smartly,” Goldrick explained as these Dublin women join their male counterparts in what appears to be a constant revolution. “Sometimes when you are going at 100 miles per hour you make more mistakes.
“In the half-back line we’d be kicking the ball in on two people but this time we’d play it through the hand more, controlled it, made sure we were taking the right shots.”
Cork won the 2014 All-Ireland despite 18 wides. Dublin retained the Brendan Martin Cup with three miscues.
“I think the men had just six wides in their final,” Goldrick noted. “That was something that we really wanted to do – keep the ball, be patient, take the right options. That’s what we really worked on: making sure when we were shooting it was the right person in the right position.
“Our tackling was a big thing and our work-rate too is something we really strive to get right. It got us over the line.”
Football simplified but ever so difficult to execute. And, unlike the dire spectacle of the camogie final, the game’s rhythm produced the truest form of Gaelic football.
Rare does an All-Ireland final end with the referee, Garryowen McMahon, commended for practising common sense over letter-of-the-law adjudication.
“There were a lot of hits out there,” said Aherne, “but it was played and refereed in a good spirit. I don’t think it was a dirty game. Just two teams who really wanted to go out and play football and put a huge amount of effort in to it. When you’re out th1ere you don’t really have a sense of what the game is like to look at, but it felt very intense.”
Two-goal hero Carla Rowe profited the most. “It was refereed very well and the game was let flow,” she concurred, “and that’s what you want as players and what everyone watching the game wants.”
The sport has surpassed its own non-contact rules.
“Ladies football is a contact sport,” Goldrick added. “I think anyone who watches it knows that. It’s a physical sport. When refs let hard tackles go in it makes for better football. As a back, I definitely think hard tackles should be allowed go in if you are winning the ball.
“It’s great to see that standard of refereeing is there because previously we have been in finals that [tackles have not been let go].
“The camogie final got a lot of negative feedback because it was a stop-start type of game. In terms of playing, you want the game to flow.”
Evidently, the rules need rewriting to catch up with the conditioning of these Dublin players.
“I’ve been playing for Dublin eight years now and the game has really evolved. Ken Robertson [strength and conditioning coach] has us peaking when we want to. That’s one thing that has really shaped our team and helped us get over the line – we are athletes but we are also footballers.”