Bryan Keane/INPHO Mick Bohan with his Dublin team after last year's All-Ireland final.
Peak 2020

'He said, 'The Curragh was off today but then again, horses are valuable'' - preparing for Christmas in Croker

Mick Bohan’s Dublin booked their seventh All-Ireland final appearance in-a-row yesterday – but this one will be very different.

DUBLIN’S SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE All-Ireland ladies football final appearance will look a little different, that’s for sure. 

Croke Park on the Sunday before Christmas will prove a very different arena to that on the third Sunday in September. 

But it’s going to be a unique occasion on the Sunday before the festivities, an experience that will live long in the memory.

And lifting the Brendan Martin Cup for the fourth year in-a-row wouldn’t exactly be the worst Christmas present.

As the Sky Blues booked their ticket to the showpiece after a ferocious battle against a spirited Armagh side under Saturday Night Lights, Christmas in Croker was understandably a major talking point after the game. In fact, muffled Christmas music could be heard from under the Kingspan Breffni Park stand when all was said and done. 

The excitement was certainly palpable for a few minutes pitch-side with Mick Bohan too, whose fourth decider at the helm will be an alternative experience.

“Believe it or not, the last time I was involved in any game of this significance [at this time of year] was a Leinster final when I was with Na Fianna,” he said, referring to the 2001 provincial decider defeat to Rathnew after extra-time.

“I remember the game was played in Newbridge. It was three days before Christmas, it was a replay.

“I still remember walking stand-side and the pitch was frozen. I mean frozen, concrete frozen. We turned to the groundsman, I was with Mick Galvin, and we said, ‘That pitch is hardly playable.’

“He turned and looked at us and he said, ‘Well, guys, The Curragh was off today but then again, horses are valuable.’ That’s exactly what he said. I still remember thinking, ‘Isn’t that just amazing? It just shows how valued we are!’

jason-sherlock-and-trevor-doyle INPHO Jason Sherlock of Dublin and Trevor Doyle of Rathnew in action that day. INPHO

The three-in-a-row winning boss can’t help but laugh as the memories come flooding back, before his mind switches to the present — and the task ahead, which will be against 2019 finalists Galway or arch-rivals Cork on 20 December.

“This year’s a little bit different,” Bohan added. “It’s given a focus. Certainly for any people whose families or kids are directly involved, the next three weeks is a diversion. And we all need diversions at the moment.

“It’s the seventh [final in-a-row] for them, we [management team] weren’t there for all of that journey. Ultimately, I think everyone knows this: when you’re involved with a team, you’re just there to try and facilitate, to allow them to play to the best of their ability.

“Ultimately they’re either good enough or they’re not and this group has certainly shown they’re able to solve an awful lot of problems.”


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