Mick Bohan: Dublin’s dominance doesn’t come easy
Coach says hard graft has brought Dublin ladies’ footballers to the brink of three-in-a-row
Dublin Ladies’ football manager Mick Bohan: ‘We’ve got thrown in a little bit with the lads.’ Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Mayo Ladies’ footballer Sarah Rowe was speaking at a media event in Dublin last month when the subject briefly turned to Dublin’s bid for three TG4 All-Ireland titles in a row.
“With anything in life – business, team environments – you need money, you need a successful environment, you need to see things being done right for girls to buy into systems, for things to go right, and I think Dublin have that,” said Rowe. “They have sponsorships here, there and everywhere. It’s really hard to compete with that.”
Rowe added at that AIB GAA event that the apparent gap between Dublin and the rest “is going to noticeably get bigger over the next few years, their dominance. You can just tell, they definitely have a bit more than every other county and it definitely seems to be very professional at this stage.”
Since Rowe’s comments, Dublin have gone on to qualify for their sixth consecutive All-Ireland final this weekend, placing them within touching distance of achieving that three-in-a-row.
They play Galway on Sunday and are favourites to hold onto the Brendan Martin Cup and to make history, though manager Mick Bohan is deeply frustrated at claims they’ve exerted a stranglehold over the ladies’ game.
“It’s amazing how people see domination,” said Bohan, referencing Cork’s near-whitewashing of the ladies’ championship between 2005 and 2016. “Cork won something like 10 All-Irelands out of 11 – we win three or four in our history and we’re now seen as dominating. We won nothing in U-14s, U-16s, minor or underage this year. We haven’t won a minor title since Leah Caffrey’s group, I think, so that’s not dominating.
“The minute we found ourselves in this position [winning back-to-back All-Irelands], people started saying to us, ‘Three-in-a-row, four-in-a-row, five-in-a-row, you’ll end up like the lads.’ And it’s just so dismissive of the work that goes into it, and equally of the people that are trying to take the prize off you.
“I feel at times people actually don’t think about it before they say it. And I find that hard at times to take. Because you just think about the hours and the days and the nights that you’ve left your own kids at home or whatever, and then everyone just throws it out that it [success] just happens, and it doesn’t. It’s down to relentless time at it, month after month.”
We’re very clear on the fact that this could be taken away from us very quickly
As far as Bohan is concerned, it’s hard graft that has allowed the Jackies to overcome at times fine margins and place themselves on the brink of the three-in-a-row.
“We’ve got thrown in a little bit with the lads,” said Bohan of the perception that the Dublin ladies are all-conquering. “All these things, no more than their situation, comes to an end. It nearly ended two weeks ago for them. We’re obviously proud of what they’ve achieved and where we are ourselves at the moment, but we’re very clear on the fact that this could be taken away from us very quickly.”
Bohan said he hasn’t felt the need to warn his players about complacency or about taking things for granted, despite their winning run.
“We don’t actually have those conversations, at all,” said Bohan, who was Jim Gavin’s skills coach when the men’s team won the 2013 All-Ireland. “Because, and I’m not just saying this because you have a microphone there, you wouldn’t believe how humble our group are. It’s something we’re really proud of. They’ve been on this [All-Ireland] stage on three occasions and come out on the wrong side of it – that fairly makes you humble about yourself. So the fact that they’ve found themselves on the other side of it in the last couple of years, they haven’t got carried away with themselves one bit.”
Both Dublin teams will be in Croke Park action this weekend, with the men’s team facing Kerry on Saturday evening in their final replay and Bohan’s ladies taking on Galway the following afternoon.
Asked if he feels the Saturday night game will overshadow or take away from the ladies’ showpiece, Bohan shook his head.
“No, I don’t, I actually think it’s going to add to it,” he said. “I just think it’s a unique occasion.”