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'You don’t play, you don’t get a medal and you don’t lift the cup. It’s for them'

Mick Bohan guided Dublin to All-Ireland senior glory yesterday as the Sky Blues finally put the hurt of the last three finals to bed.

Mick Bohan and Player of the Match Noelle Healy celebrate.
Mick Bohan and Player of the Match Noelle Healy celebrate.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MICK BOHAN GUIDED Dublin to the 2003 All-Ireland senior final, but a goal in the dying seconds broke his side’s hearts as Mayo lifted the Brendan Martin Cup.

Yesterday, in his second stint at the helm, the Clontarf man had the chance to right the wrongs in Croke Park, and he did so successfully.

A flurry of goals in the final ten minutes saw Dublin storm past Mayo to be crowned All-Ireland senior champions following three back-to-back final losses.

The scenes as the hooter sounded said it all. After three heartbreaking, and narrow defeats to Cork, all of the hurt they had bottled up was emphatically released on the biggest stage in Gaelic games.

Absolute elation, tears, warm embraces and roars of joy — this meant so much to this admirable group of players.

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

Bohan, of course, was full of smiles. His job was done. But he didn’t get too carried away.

“I’ll be honest with you, elation – the players get that feeling,” he told reporters beneath the Hogan Stand afterwards, when that word was thrown at him.

“Ultimately all we have done is try to facilitate a group to the best of our ability but you don’t play, you don’t get a medal and you don’t lift the cup. It’s for them – they’ve earned it so at this point in time the feeling is contentment.”

When he officially picked up the reins in January, the former Clare senior football coach who has also worked alongside Jim Gavin knew the height of the task that lay ahead.

Dublin players celebrate the final whistle Dublin players rush from the bench at the final whistle. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The fourth Sunday in September has ended in heartbreak for the Sky Blues for the last three years running. But there was a huge sense that 2018 was going to be their year. It was going to be a case of fourth time lucky.

He spoke highly of the determination and resilience show by his players to finally reach the summit and lift their first All-Ireland title since 2010, and second in total.

“You never go back in sport. If we lived by that motto, this group wouldn’t have lifted and All-Ireland today because they have shown great resilience as human beings to come back, and bounce back from lots of disappointing days.

“You’d have to be thrilled for them, they didn’t just represent themselves today but it was the groups of the last number of years, even going back to our own group in 2003. But we are very proud of them at this moment in time.”

Managing his side emotionally ahead of the decider also presented in challenge — keeping the focus of the end goal intact, and the bad memories of the last three finals at bay.

How did Bohan do it?

“To play in the moment,” he said of his advice. “To not get caught up in the occasion not to lose focus of the game plan.

“All of those things are factored in on challenges they had been set and targets they had been set, and that’s what makes them play the game minute-by-minute.”

Mick Bohan with Dublin Ladies football team 5/10/2003 Bohan with his Dublin side in 2003. Source: INPHO

And minute-by-minute was how his charges performed. The game was finely balanced in the opening stages, but as half-time approached, proceedings began to take a wrong turn for Mayo.

Niamh McEvoy slotted home for the Dubs, while Frank Browne’s side lost the services of goalkeeper Yvonne Byrne to the sin bin. She was adjudged to take down Sinéad Aherne in the area, but the Jackies captain failed to convert the subsequent penalty.

Moments later, they were reduced to 13 with Rachel Kearns following suit for an off the ball incident. Minus two players, the Westerner’s vulnerability came to the fore as weaknesses were exposed but not fully capitalised on by Dublin.

Bohan’s charges had several goal chances throughout, but only truly found their most clinical attacking form in the final ten minutes with substitute Sarah McCaffery firing a brace into the Hill 16, and Carla Rowe chipping in with another goal.

At half-time, Bohan admits that there was some worry in the dressing room.

“We were concerned, because we had created a huge number of opportunities. They had two girls in the bin and we weren’t punishing them at that point in time.

“Ultimately in an All-Ireland final, you wonder if you are going to continue to create those opportunities. But thankfully they stayed in the moment, there’s no point in pondering things that have gone, particularly in big games like this.

“They stayed and played the game play by play, minute by minute and fortunately for us we eventually punished them.

“I thought the defending today was outstanding. One of the things we felt was missing in the ladies game was blocking. And some of the blocks today just showed the desire to just win the ball back, and when you saw that, you were just incredibly proud.”

Niamh Collins with Cora Staunton Staunton in action yesterday. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

When asked about his plan to keep Cora Staunton’s impact to a minimum, Bohan paid tribute to the Carnacon stalwart — who after 23 seasons, may have played her last game in the green and red jersey.

“She has been an outstanding sportswoman. She has represented Ladies Gaelic football over a long period of time at the highest level. She has influenced every game she has played in because of how good she is.

“So of course we had to make a plan for her but I just thought the bravery, the way they went about it, was just fantastic.”

And following a week where Bohan’s comments to the media on how the 35-year-old knows how to ‘intimidate referees’ drew a response from the Mayo camp, he touched on his regret — and shared that he felt he may have been misinterpreted.

“I was very disappointed. And that probably shows why people don’t open up. If you take a full conversation and put it out there, it represents the topic better. When I spoke to people, I was having a football conversation. I didn’t throw it out there to influence the referee.

“It did hurt me to see those things put out and I was concerned that it would hurt the group. That was a bit of a weight I carried over the last few days. But I will learn from it.”

Subscribe to The42 podcasts here:

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