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 SFC 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.”
Meanwhile, Bohan revealed that he only let a documentary team shadow them last season because it paid for hot food at their training sessions.
An independent film company followed the Jackies’ journey to the 2017 TG4 All-Ireland senior title, which they won, before a record 46,286 crowd, after losing the three previous finals.
The resultant fly-on-the-wall documentary Blues Sisters was widely lauded for the unique insight it gave into the players’ commitment, training levels and personal challenges.
Bohan has revealed he had serious reservations about giving such close access to his players and that his team only agreed to it because of the €17,500 fee it involved.
People talk about finance in Dublin (GAA) but at that time this group were coming to training and weren’t getting fed,” Bohan said.
“I still remember the conversation I had with Sinéad Finnegan about coming to training and going home at half-ten at night and having beans and toast.
“Sinéad Aherne, who had a high-pressure job with KPMG, told me that getting home to Malahide at 10.30-11pm on the nights she trained, having not been fed, left her body depleted.
“Our food bill last year was €17,500. When you say that to people they say it’s ridiculous money but it was the first thing we went after.
And when Loosehorse (the film company) said they would cover it, that’s what made the documentary happen. That was the decision.
Dublin men’s and women’s teams are both sponsored by AIG but Bohan revealed that the women’s team previously did considerable collective fund-raising to fund meals at their training.
“We started off running a golf classic and did coaching courses for clubs. All of that went back into the kitty for the players. That’s what we were willing to do,” he stressed.
“So for someone (the TV company) to come along then and say they were going to cover that (food) bill, that was massive for us.”
Even though the people who suggested it — former Galway player and director Pat Comer and Cormac Hargaden of Loosehorse TV — had serious film-making and GAA credentials, Bohan was reluctant to allow the project at first. His biggest worry, after the players’ privacy, was that they might lose their fourth final in-a-row and the show would only heap further misery on them.
“Once we had that (the funding) and once we had an agreement that they weren’t going to show anybody in a light that was going to make them uncomfortable, we went ahead with it,” he explained.
“I don’t think anyone sold their souls and I think they gave a really good insight into the group who had great stories to tell.”