OBVIOUS regrets about missing a couple of chances when it mattered most but pride in his team’s performance was the overriding emotion of Dublin manager Gerry McGill after yesterday’s TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football final in Croke Park.
McGill, who has played inter-county football for his native Donegal as well as Carlow, said that while he never believed the title was ‘in the bag,’ he felt they would have won if they had been able to open up a bigger lead near the end.
“If we tagged on one more score it would have really demoralised them,’’ he commented. “I know Cork were very worried at half-time, you could tell that by their body language.
“With about seven minutes left, one more score could have killed the game off. The best team never loses, really, I suppose it comes down to football, to taking your chances – and unfortunately I think that was what probably happened. Cork took their chances in the end. We’ll probably live to rue some of the chances we missed.
“But we put in a tremendous effort in. We were within six minutes of winning an All-Ireland and we had them on the rack for long periods in the game. But, that’s sport, that’s the way it goes.”
In terms of missed chances, he didn’t believe their penalty miss in the first half was crucial. “I don’t think it was a key factor,’’ he said. “You see fellas in England getting 50 grand a week and they’re missing penalties. No reflection on Sinead Ahern – we wouldn’t be here today without her contribution. She has been fantastic all year.’’
All the more pleased to see the team do so well when a lot of people ‘didn’t think they had any chance at all,’ McGill said that while they were conscious of Cork’s ‘attacking prowess in their half-back,’ their priority had been to concentrate on their own game plan.
“We always believed we were good enough. We had the players. We were good enough to pull it off,’’ he said. “Coming towards the end, when we were two points up, there was a five to six minute period where Cork exerted a bit of dominance and we conceded one or two sloppy scores. If you make mistakes against Cork, they will punish you.’’
And, while the Cork players had been booed for holding on to the ball for the last minute, McGill said he hadn’t been surprised, adding: “I’d probably do the same thing myself. That’s the mark of a very intelligent team. It just goes to show how smart they are.”
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