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Saturday 21 October 2017

Finnegan: 'I felt like vomiting a few times because it was so close'

Dublin footballer, Sinéad Finnegan, at yesterday’s AIG Insurance event
Dublin footballer, Sinéad Finnegan, at yesterday’s AIG Insurance event

The week before the Dublin ladies All-Ireland SFC final against Mayo, Sineád Finnegan tore a calf muscle.

The extent of the injury was only brought into clear and worrying light when a doctor informed her that an injection they were planning to administer in order to get the Fingallians player on the pitch could end her career.

It wasn't a nice scenario to face.

Finnegan has been with the Dublin ladies for a decade but missed the 2010 All-Ireland win after opting out for a season, so not being an active part against Mayo a couple of Sundays ago would have been a cruel blow.

Even the days approaching the final were a test.

"It was a tough week mentally," Finnegan confirms, "because I was thinking about it all the time.

"People kept asking me was I looking forward to the match, and I was just hoping I could play. So we just came up with a Plan B, a few various things that I had to do. And it didn't last very long, because I had to come off the pitch, but it was ok, because the outcome was still good."

Finnegan lasted 22 minutes in the close company of Cora Staunton before being replaced by Deirde Murphy on a day that will be remembered for a few reasons.

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It transpired to be just Dublin's second All-Ireland triumph in what was the most attended ladies final in history and the biggest recorded ladies sporting event in the world that weekend.

Some 46,286 people watched from the stands as Dublin accelerated to a 12-point (4-11 to 0-11) win thanks to a late flurry of goals.

"While I wasn't right, it wasn't about me, it was about them," Finnegan says now.

"It was tough watching from the sideline, I'm not going to lie. I felt like vomiting a few times, because it was so close.

"I don't think I'd be a very good fan - I got to experience what it's like for my family and friends who come and support us all the time.

"But it was amazing, getting the win was just unbelievable, something I will remember for ever, enjoy for ever."

It marked the end of an annual heartbreak for the Dublin ladies having lost the previous three finals although if those atrocities suffered at Cork's hands had scarred them, it didn't show.

Since Mick Bohan took over at the start of this year, Dublin have seemed an altogether more rounded team.

Where Noelle Healy shone in the final, Nicole Owens did the business against Kerry. Sineád Ahern led the line superbly throughout.

Finnegan and Sineád Goldrick brought a calm experience to their defence, Lauren Magee provided a new dynamism at midfield. Even their bench, particularly Sarah McCaffrey in the final, made a seismic contribution.

Mostly though, Finnegan says, Bohan improved them as footballers.

"Me being a very bog-standard back, I've never done a dummy in my life," he points out, "but I can do it off both feet now.

"He really has developed all of us as footballers. For the young girls it's great because they all have long careers ahead and if they can bring that great coaching forward in their football careers, it's a really positive sign for ladies football in Dublin."

"I suppose when you imagine yourself winning an All-Ireland, which I have done a few times, you don't imagine that you're siting on the suns bench, with an injury, crying your eyes out," said Finnegan

"But Paul Flynn said to me, when you win your first All-Ireland, it's hard to get that exhilarating feeling again. And the moment when we did win was amazing.

"And I hope I get to experience it again.

"One of my best friends, Denise McKenna, is on the panel, and she was like, get up on my back, and I'll carry you around the pitch, because I couldn't walk. So that was really lovely for us to have that moment.

"We share the same birthday, three days before the final ... it was a moment that I will always remember."

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