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Tuesday 11 December 2018

All-Ireland champions 2018: Bohan happy to bask before looking forward

JOB DONE: Dublin manager Mick Bohan (left) and defensive coach Paul Casey. Photo: SPORTSFILE
JOB DONE: Dublin manager Mick Bohan (left) and defensive coach Paul Casey. Photo: SPORTSFILE

You don't get to win back-to-back All-Irelands without people pestering you about three-in-a-row.

And you don't do it a couple of Sundays after your county's men's team claimed their fourth All-Ireland title in succession without giddy talk of legacies and dominance.

"When you're involved in sport," says Dublin ladies manager Mick Bohan, "the work that goes in to a day like Sunday; the hours, the number of people who are selfless with their time, the backroom staff, the coaches, the medical team, the strength and conditioning - everything that goes with it is huge.

"And when you talk about even references last night to the lads and their four-in-a-row or their crack at five-in-a-row now….it's nearly thrown off the tip of the tip of your tongue as if it's as easy as getting a bus ride out to the coast.

"And it's so difficult. We're just so appreciative today to have put back-to-back titles together and to have beaten Cork en route to that.

"So we'll just soak that up for the moment."

Unsurprisingly. Sunday's win wasn't a year in the making, it was a little longer than that.

Scarred

Dublin were scarred, having been cut deep and often by Cork in three consecutive All-Ireland finals when Bohan came into manage the team prior to the start of last year.

"When we got in, when we came in as a management team," Bohan recalls, "the first thing we did with our stats team was we went back over the Cork games.

"Because we felt that if we were going to be victorious, that was the team we needed to beat. They were the standard-bearers.

HEROES: The Dublin team celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup following the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship Final victory over Cork at Croke Park. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
HEROES: The Dublin team celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup following the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship Final victory over Cork at Croke Park. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

"So realistically for us, we had been preparing for that game yesterday for the guts of 18 months. An d that's a testament to them.

"Because ultimately when you go into a competition, you have to look at the top teams. And they were the top team.

"So on that, we didn't make a big thing of it. We couldn't.

"And there was no point in saying to anyone it was a box unticked.

"But we knew it was always going to be held over this group, that they had won an All-Ireland but they hadn't beaten Cork.

"And even some of the press alluded to the fact that we'd 'avoided' Cork last year, as if it was on purpose.

"But to have gone through this era without beating them would certainly have been a bone of contention."

Not only did Dublin beat Cork for the first time in Championship football on Sunday, they did it in a match where the official attendance was 50,141 on a day when TG4's viewership figures showed that an average of 179,000 viewers watched Dublin retain the Brendan Martin Cup, representing a 26.1% share of viewing - both figures easily surpassing the previous records.

Exhibition

What they saw was an exhibition of measured, composed football from Dublin in a game they dominated but never quite streaked away.

Mature and commanding rather than swashbuckling or spectacular.

The figures tell a tale.

They kicked just three wides and retained all but one of Ciara Trant's re-starts.

"We were particularly happy with the score before half-time because it was something we'd worked on - taking the right shot at the right time as opposed to just giving possession needlessly away," Bohan recalled.

"We held the ball for 70 or 80 seconds and pulled the trigger at the right time.

"That composure obviously is very satisfying from the coaches because the work goes on in the background."

"In days gone by, where they didn't have that experience or that game-management . . . that comes through lots of lots of hours but it also comes with the age profile of the team.

"There's huge experience there and leaders have sprung up over the last eight or nine months which, for us, has been hugely pleasing."

"But look," he concluded, "I can't say enough about this group."

"They've worked hard and deserve their reward."

"Late nights, early mornings - they're not a chore. It's par for the course."

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