‘You can see the audiences building up’: fans react to women’s football final

Record-breaking 56,000-plus turn up to see Dublin’s three in a row with win over Galway

Hannah O’Neill of Dublin celebrates with the Brendan Martin Cup. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Hannah O’Neill of Dublin celebrates with the Brendan Martin Cup. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

 

Screams and shouts of joy from thousands of young fans rang out across Croke Park on Sunday evening as the Dublin All-Ireland female champions collected the Brendan Martin Cup for the third time in a row.

Despite the sudden drop in temperature on the previous day’s sport and the seemingly never-ending drizzle, spirits were high at a match that attracted a record-breaking 56,114 fans, not far behind the 57,900 attendees at the women’s World Cup football final in July.

For Mary Kehoe, it was her second time dressing up in blue to support her local team at an All-Ireland women’s final. The match two years ago was more exciting because more points were scored, the nine-year-old said. But it was still a treat to spend a September evening in Croke Park.

“I like seeing the female players,” she said. “It’s good to see so many women play.”

Mary and her mum, Yvonne McMahon, agreed the Dubs were far too hesitant in the first half but found the courage to start taking shots after half-time.

“I think the weather played a big part in it, unfortunately. It was very slippy,” said McMahon. “They seemed braver to take shots from further out from the goal towards the end of the game. In the second half they took those chances.”

The weather also presented a real problem for the Galway players, making it difficult to follow through on the game they had planned, according to a group of footballers wearing Moycullen GAA sweatshirts.

“It was frustrating to watch. Galway definitely could have done it,” said Amy Duggan. “They were working so hard but it just didn’t work out for them.”

“It was really tough conditions. They did their best, considering,” her friend Katie added. “They’re very young so they can go again next year. Galway is very good underage, so they’re coming through in the next few years. Hopefully they’ll do it soon.”

‘Overpriced’ men’s games

The Collins family from Moylough in Galway were also disappointed by the result but glad to have made the journey to Dublin. Gerry Collins brought his two daughters and two sons to Croke Park for the first time.

“Some of the men’s games are overpriced so it was an opportunity to experience the final for the kids in a safer environment, where the crowds aren’t so big.”

Both his daughters play football for the local club, and he hoped they would leave the game with new role models to aspire to.

“I want to show them what they can achieve and show there’s more to sport than just under-14 and under-16 teams.”

Standing by the Hogan Stand exit on to Jones’s Road, Dublin teenagers Kayleigh Lawlor and Nicole O’Donnell said they didn’t play football but recently started following the women’s team and became interested in the sport. “There’s a great atmosphere at all the matches and you can see the numbers of audiences building up,” said Nicole. “It’s great for us as women to see it happen and believe we can try it in the future.”

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