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Two-time All-Star defender and 2017 All-Ireland hero return for Dublin ahead of new season

Leah Caffrey and Sarah McCaffrey are among five familiar faces who have returned to Mick Bohan’s set-up.

Dublin star Leah Caffrey returns to the fold after travelling.
Dublin star Leah Caffrey returns to the fold after travelling.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

DUBLIN LADIES MANAGER Mick Bohan has been boosted by the return of five familiar faces ahead of the 2020 season. 

The three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions have welcomed two-time All-Star Leah Caffrey and 2017 All-Ireland final two-goal hero Sarah McCaffrey back into the fold ahead of the Lidl Ladies National Football League.

Defensive duo Deirdre Murphy and Laura McGinley are also back in the set-up alongside forward Rebecca McDonnell. 

Na Fianna defender Caffrey, Contarf’s McCaffrey — sister of Jack — and McGinley of Naomh Barróg had all been travelling, while Murphy and McDonnell took some time out after knee injuries, and missed the 2019 campaign.

“Leah, Dee, Sarah McCaffrey, Laura McGinley, Rebecca McDonnell; that’s the five,” Bohan told The42 at today’s Lidl Ladies National Football League launch when asked about the returnees.

A big lift for us. Leah played [in a challenge match] at the weekend and I swear to God, it was as if she was never away. It was incredible to see her. She is such a competitor — even though she was telling us she nearly had a heart attack!

“She is unbelievable, she is the competitor in the arena.”

With their 2020 Division 1 opener against Tipperary on Sunday, Bohan also noted that the Sky Blues will have some absentees.

“Olwen Carey is taking time out with study, obviously the two girls are in Oz and then a couple of girls are recovering from injury; Nicole [Owens] and Siobhan Killeen.

“Lyndsey [Davey] and Sinéad [Aherne] are taking a bit of an extended break, Noelle [Healy] has medical exams in February. So all of those situations, whereby we just manage the squad for a period.”

2019 All-Star midfielder Carey will be a huge loss but Bohan insists that the door remains open, while Sinéad Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy are the two preparing for the 2020 Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] with Melbourne FC.

mick-bohan-talks-to-his-team-after-the-game Bohan with his team after last year's All-Ireland final. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Owens is on the road to recovery from a cruciate injury sustained in the latter end of last year’s championship, while former Ireland international Killeen suffered a horror long-term hamstring injury in training in May.

All-Ireland winning captain Aherne, 2017 Footballer of the Year Healy and long-serving Davey are all expected to return for the latter rounds of the league.

But Bohan is pleased to have players back on board for 2020 to step up while they’re absent.

“That’s been our ethos from the start,” he notes when the importance of letting players like Caffrey, McGinley and McCaffrey go travelling and gain experiences is put to him.

“When the competition finishes in September, you’re waiting for the phone to ring October, November time and hoping it’s not certain people. But that’s the nature of it. At the end of the day it’s their hobby and it has to be treated as that.

“Once they’re there, they know it’s about giving full commitment, but there’s times in their lives where it’s the right thing to do — to go and see the world, study a course that we don’t offer here or whatever it is.

No more than the two girls gone to Australia, you wish them well and hope it works for them. The door is open. That’s one of the things we’re happy with; five girls coming back into the squad who have been with us.

“You feel then the ethos is right, that that’s the environment they want to be part of. That’s important to us.”

mick-bohan-arrives Bohan and coach Ken Robinson. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Clontarf man Bohan added that there are no changes to his management team, which contains 2011 All-Ireland champion Paul Casey and renowned coach Ken Robinson: 

“We are exactly as we were. One or two over the course of the winter won’t be as involved with us as they had been last year, but they’ll be back with us for the summer. 

“Continuity is really important, because we’ve had a healthy background staff and so much of the success has been down to the way they’ve done their business. Delighted that’s to continue.”

“Can’t wait now at this stage even though we’re a short time at it,” he added ahead of the league opener at Ballyboden St Enda’s [throw-in 2pm, live on LGFA Facebook].

“We’re only back a fortnight. Tipperary at the weekend, we’re looking forward to it. Lots of new faces, the challenge starts all over again. 

“It will be interesting, Tipp are a decent outfit and obviously would have been hugely disappointed to have been relegated from senior football [for 2019 season]. I’m sure they’ll come all guns blazing.”

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Emma Duffy

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