Tim Rabbitt hardly needs reminding that it’s almost four years since TG4 All-Ireland final opponents Dublin last failed to score a goal in the championship.
Maybe it’s a good omen for Rabbitt’s Galway that that occasion in 2015 was also a final, Dublin’s defeat to Cork, though the statistics suggest the Dubs will hit at least one again this weekend. They’ve been scoring goals for fun throughout their march to the brink of a three in a row of titles with 19 goals already raised in this year’s five-game campaign.
The Jackies have blasted 64 goals in total since the start of the 2017 championship, an incredible average of exactly four per game with players like Sinead Aherne and Niamh McEvoy profiting.
As it happens, that’s how many goals Dublin scored against Galway in last year’s semi-finals when, withRabbitt on the line as a coach before stepping up into the bainisteoir role for 2019, the holders won 4-8 to 1-10.
Asked what he learned from that 2018 game, Rabbitt replied: “To not concede goals. Obviously Dublin are a very talented team and they do hit those hammer blows of goals at different times.
“It wouldn’t be possible for us to win the game the next day if we’re going to concede four or five goals. We’ll have to have a really good strong defensive plan in place that coexists with a really good attack plan.”
Dublin have twice hit five goals in this year’s campaign, against Waterford and Kerry, and they drilled four past Westmeath in the Leinster final.
But Rabbitt said the holders are well capable of shutting up shop and dragging bodies back behind the ball when necessary too.
“They’re going for three in a row, there isn’t any kind of obvious weakness there,” he said. “They can be very defensive minded when they need to be, they’re well able to get numbers behind the ball to make sure they don’t concede goals and obviously then they’re well able to attack. They attack in numbers so they’re a very talented bunch.”
If Galway can pull off the win at Croke Park on Sunday then it’ll be success at the first attempt for Rabbitt whose role was upgraded from coach to manager last November.
He’s guided the county to a first final appearance in 14 years and if they win, it’ll be Galway’s first title since beating Dublin in the 2004 decider.
“The girls were beaten in a league semi-final last year — this year we got to the league final,” said Rabbitt. “We were beaten in the championship semi-final last year — now we’re in the All-Ireland final. So we’ve made some progress on that part but the next challenge is Sunday.”
Rabbitt confirmed that the experienced Cooney sisters, Fabienne and Charlotte, will both be available after missing the semi-final win over Mayo with hamstring injuries.
“They’re back and they’ve trained away, they’ve played internal games and that sort of stuff so they’re available to be selected,” he said.
Galway are aiming for a dream double of ladies titles having already captured the camogie crown last Sunday at GAA headquarters.
“That was a super occasion,” said Rabbitt. “A lot of our girls went last weekend to support them. There’s a great buzz in Galway at the moment, particularly in regards to female sport. We’ll feed off it a little bit but it’s not really a factor, we’ve our own task ahead of us on Sunday.”