By Cliona Foley
Cork may have confessed afterwards that they felt disrespected by such a big ‘underdog’ tag but Dublin manager Mick Bohan bristled at the suggestion that anyone in his camp was guilty of it.
“It must have been you (media),” he responded when it was put to him.
“They weren’t (written off) in our camp. Are you joking me? After all the scars they’ve left here? Why would we do that?
“To beat the standard bearers was really important for this group because it was always something that was going to be thrown back at them long after their boots were hung up - ‘you couldn’t beat that great Cork team’.
“People will say that they (Cork) have lost their leaders, but the tradition they’ve built up in their own county and in women’s football is huge.”
After weeks of denying that defeating Cork was a motivating factor, Dublin could finally admit that that wrestling the Rebel off their back did make yesterday’s back-to-back and third All-Ireland title all the sweeter.
Not only was it the Jackies’ first final victory over Cork after a string of minimal All-Ireland defeats to them, it was the first time they had ever beaten Cork in championship football.
“I don’t think I realised how much (it mattered) until the final whistle,” wing-back Sinead Goldrick admitted.
“We wanted to do two in a row too,” she stressed. “I don’t think we would be happy with just the one. For years we chased that All-Ireland and we definitely didn’t want to lose it.”
“We didn’t ignore it, I don’t think you can,” admitted Dublin captain Sinead Aherne. “But we tried to put it into a frame, that we were playing Cork and would just have to be at the peak of our game to beat them.”
Ultimately the key to unlocking Cork’s admirably tigerish defence was the finishing of Carla Rowe, a 24-year-old child-care worker who morphed into a football sniper yesterday.
She pulled the trigger twice and both bullets came at critical moments in the game.
And even though she shot from close range she still had lots to do and brilliantly dummied each time to beat one defender and then the goalkeeper.
What was she thinking as she squeezed the trigger?
“The girls made it easy for me, I was one-on-one, that’s all you can do for each other.”
Two years ago, in Dublin’s third final loss in a row to Cork, she took a shot which was disallowed without the benefit of Hawkeye technology and, in a one-point loss, that left a very bitter taste in her mouth.
That scoring technology was in play yesterday but never needed.
The goal that Cork got, brilliantly taken by Aine ‘Terry’ O’Sullivan to tie the sides for the third time in the 23rd minute, was the only point of contention.
Bohan said he thought referee Garryowen McMahon had whistled for a free-out: “All of a sudden the ball was in the back of the net but I can’t comment because we didn’t have (video) playback of it.” Goldrick, whose pass was intercepted for the goal, said “I wasn’t too sure. I thought it was a free but it was my own fault for putting it through the centre.
“When I did it I just knew I made a mistake but I remember someone whispered ‘next ball’ to me and it didn’t make a difference in the end. I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if there was a goal in the difference.”
There was a consensus that the referee let this titanic tussle flow and that this is was what players want.
“I think the rules of the game went out the window and rightly so, because it just became an absolute white heat of battle contest.
“The rules of the game say no deliberate contact but it was absolutely fantastic to see. I hope you enjoyed the spectacle because I thought both teams were fantastic.”
Just as the ‘drive for five’ was immediately mentioned after their men’s fourth consecutive title, the speculation of a ladies ‘three in-a-row’ is already in full swing.