By Declan Rooney
Dublin manager Mick Bohan is hoping that last Sunday’s A versus B training game will be the hour that gives his side the edge to claim back-to-back TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football titles for the first time in the county’s history.
Bohan is yet to reveal his starting team for Sunday’s decider against Cork – the fourth meeting between the sides in the last five finals – but he thinks their most competitive session of the year has given them the edge.
“It was a very competitive game, probably the most competitive game we’ve had all year,” said Bohan.
“What the second team showed us on Sunday was that the level in the group has jumped from what it was before. The chasing pack has come much closer to the starting group. That was the challenge we set them at the start of the season so it was fantastic to see that last weekend.
“Ultimately for some people last Sunday was their All-Ireland final and they know that they’re not going to be part of the 30 (match-day squad). They are going out there and they are not going to play a part this weekend.
“We’ve always been like this right through the year that the person who’s put their hand up on form will get their opportunity and that was the idea of Sunday.”
Twelve months ago Bohan led Dublin to their second All-Ireland title, with victory over Mayo in the final.
The build-up to the game dragged on for him, but as soon as he linked up with the squad he felt at home. Even those closest to him couldn’t fathom the torturous wait for the first whistle to be blown.
“The day of the game, you’re just wishing it to start. Even with family members, who understand to a degree, nobody fully gets the feeling compared to people in the group.
“It’s like that when you win and when you lose: that’s who you want to be with because they are the ones who’ve done the hard yards with you. Meeting up in DCU, getting to that stage is when it starts to kick in, that’s the great part.”
After watching Dublin men’s footballers win their fourth All-Ireland in a row recently, Bohan is focused on his own two-in-a-row quest but he’s loathe to look any further than Sunday with his side.
He is of the opinion that the ladies game is a far tighter competition than the men’s, and with five potential winners this year in his eyes, he’s happy to be back facing the final hurdle once again.
“I’d say the women’s game is way more even at the moment, I would certainly have picked out at the start of the year the four semi-finalists and you can throw Mayo into that as well. “Those five teams I would have said to you at the start of the year, any one of those or any two of those could be competing for an All-Ireland this year.
“I’m not quite sure you could pick out five teams in the men’s at the moment that would be in the same boat so as regards looking beyond next Sunday is madness.
“To win any trophy nationally is a huge thing, to win two of them in the one year would be magnificent, it’s certainly something we haven’t done before.
“I found this year’s men’s final particularly pleasing because they’ve gone on to create their own bit of history. Please God one more for the history books to make them the greatest team of all time, which I think they have already proven.
“We have huge connections between our own group and theirs, girls going out with some of the lads, sisters of players, and daughters of former All-Ireland medal winners. That makes the whole Dublin family thing a little bit closer.”