The approach of the Dublin ladies in 2018 was different to previous years.
Where in past campaigns they found themselves too often looking in the rearview mirror, casting their minds back to games where they had come up short and contemplating what might have been, there was no such negative reflection this season.
“For the first time in a few years, we’ve been looking forward, instead of looking back,” said Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne.
It was about us and what we could do to push our game onto the next level — that was the approach we took. For Dublin, next year, that will be natural again — to constantly improve standards and see what way we go.
In 2019, Mick Bohan’s charges will bid to complete the three in a row. And on the evidence provided on Sunday, it is going to require a huge effort to stop them becoming the third county — after Kerry and Cork — to win the Brendan Martin Cup three years in succession.
Dublin’s in-your-face physicality, coupled with their pace and counter-punching ability, has taken them clear of the pack.
Well clear in the case of every single county bar Cork.
When Orla Finn kicked her seventh free of the contest to cut their opponents’ lead to the minimum on 48 minutes, the Dublin of old would have tightened up, as they did in 2009 and 2014 when holding the inside lane turning the bend for home.
This time round, Martha Byrne carried the ball straight down the throat of the Cork defence, the move ending with Cara Rowe crashing home her second goal.
“We probably dropped our pace a bit in the second half and Cork came out hard in the second half. We had a chance and we missed it, but we just knew we needed to keep working,” Aherne, who scored 1-7, continued.
At times, we managed to work the ball around and work an opening. Carla’s goal was fantastic. She has been getting in those positions all year and we just kept saying, ‘keep getting there and those goals are going to come’. And they did, that’s the most pleasing thing.
“You see someone who is putting in a huge amount of work every game and is just so patient. It paid off for her today.”
The Dublin attack, led by Aherne and the indefatigable Lyndsey Davey, both of whom have been on the scene since 2003 and ‘04 respectively, were a relative picture of economy throughout. . At the end of the hour, their wide count read three.
“It just shows we were really patient and composed. What really showed is we just didn’t drop the heads and we knew that if we could keep creating that one more chance — Sinéad Goldrick coming up and getting that point at the end typified it — that somebody else was always willing to step forward and drive it on. No-one was getting tired, everyone was tuned in and able to flick the switch. Everyone was on the same page.”