By Brendan O’Brien
Ciara Trant doesn’t ever see it happening but she would like to think that Dublin could absorb the kind of blow that Mayo shipped when a host of players and two selectors walked from the senior set-up in the week they started their All-Ireland campaign.
“I’d like to think we could,” said the All-Ireland and league champions’ keeper. “We have a huge panel. We have numbers to choose from and massive talent so whatever team is picked to play on the day can perform.”
Mayo, who lost the most recent league and All-Ireland finals to Dublin, are still operating without the walkouts — Cora Staunton among them — and they meet their Leinster rivals in Group 4 of the All-Ireland in Dr Hyde Park this weekend.
Both sides are already confirmed for the quarter-final stage thanks to earlier defeats of Cavan in the three-team pool and Trant has been impressed with the manner in which Mayo put away the Ulster side just days after the squad’s internal ructions.
If anything, Trant believes the dispute gave the Mayo players who stayed an edge, as they knuckled down to face Cavan, but there is a recognition and an understanding that such a development can’t but leave a mark on a panel.
“They must have fantastic leaders that are still there in the group to rally them and pull them together.”
The exact nature of the dispute in Mayo has not been made public but welfare issues have been cited, and that has focused the spotlight once again on the women’s game and how well or otherwise the top players are.
Trant has no complaints with her lot. The county board, manager Mick Bohan, and sponsors AIG are all given their due for establishing a blueprint off which the players and the team as a collective can excel.
“Mick, as the leader of our management team, is all the time looking to get us exactly what we need. He leaves no stone unturned. Once we are happy and looked after and enjoying our football, once we are fit and happy, he is happy.
“You could get everything you ever asked for and not perform on the pitch, or you could get nothing and win an All-Ireland. So, as much as they look after us, it is up to us to look after our performances.” If there is a frustration, it lies in the infrequency with which the team has played. Nine weeks separated their league final defeat of Cavan and the next game, a Leinster decider against Westmeath. Another three passed before they took on Cavan.
The resultant hint of rustiness in both performances was understandable and yet Dublin ultimately won both comfortably. The challenges will likely stiffen now with teams motivated by an opportunity dethrone them.
“It is a little bit different being chased as opposed to chasing but I find that when teams come up against Dublin, they have that extra bit of bite because they are playing the Dubs. Now there is even more reason against the reigning All-Ireland champions.
“That puts the onus back on us to be better every time we go out, which is great. It is raising our standards.”