Dublin’s double goal-scoring hero in the 2018 TG4 All-Ireland senior final, Carla Rowe, is hoping to repeat her ‘dream come true’ performance when the champions face Cork in Croke Park on Sunday.
Rowe (24) had played in three losing All-Ireland finals against Cork before last year’s big win for Mick Bohan’s side, but know the Rebels will be gunning for revenge in this weekend’s semi-final.
Defeating Cork in Croke Park was a sweet victory for Dublin after all their failings against the Rebels, and Rowe is keen to add a second win against them.
“We played Cork three years in a row, in 2014, 2015, and 2016 — and lost all three. I was involved in all three,” said Rowe, who plays her club football with Clann Mhuire.
“It just makes it that bit sweeter. It makes you appreciate it. It makes you realise it doesn’t come that easily.
“You do have to work hard. Once we won, and the final whistle sounds, you just have to be in the moment and celebrate as much as you can.
"That is what you dream of and you play for and train for. Personally, to score two goals in Croke Park and get player of the match was a dream come true.”
One of the toughest days for Rowe in the Dublin shirt came in the 2016 final defeat to Cork.
She was centrally involved in the game’s big talking point: a shot that looked good was waved wide, while the newly installed HawkEye was not in operation that day. Rowe didn’t hide her annoyance afterward.
“It was hard when I gave my reaction straight after the game. I think I said it was a disgrace.
“I wouldn’t like to react like that now. It was just in the moment. HawkEye had been brought in for the men’s game but not for the women’s at that stage.
"We lost the game by a point. It would have been a draw. But on those days when you are very disappointed you turn to any little thing you can hold onto.
"A lot of people would have said that to me after. You just have to move on and learn from these things. We just trained hard the next year.
"The LGFA are always improving so the following year Hawk-Eye was in place and it’s there now. It’s brilliant.”
A childcare worker, Rowe is a native of Lusk but she later moved to Naul where she is still based.
Her job means she is in touch with the community and its next generation, while she has been named as one of 10 mentors who form part of the #SeriousSupport Schools Programme, which has seen Lidl Ireland invest over €125,000 to reduce the drop-off rate in sport participation among girls in their early teenage years.
“It is a brilliant initiative and programme that is hoping to increase and maintain the number of women playing sport. It is sad that a lot of girls, by the age of 13, they give up sport.
"I did some schools in Ashbourne and Lucan and it went really, really well.
“I think for any person who enjoys being around children, you just love to be able to see children and students enjoying themselves and having fun.
“There is just so much pressure on young girls these days. It’s great when you see them at the start of the day, they are less confident and by the end of the day they are enjoying themselves and going home with a smile on their face.
"That is what I love about it. You can see such a change.”
On the field, Rowe and Dublin face a stiff challenge on Sunday.
Cork have beaten them twice already this year in Division 1 of the National League, including an epic semi-final that went to extra-time at Nowlan Park, and she expects another big test.
“It is not going to be an easy game. It is going to be fast football which is what you want to see.
"Cork are a very strong team. That goes without saying. Everyone knows what they are like and how well they can perform.
"Our matches are always a brilliant day out. We are looking forward to it.”
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