Thomas Davis star and long-time Dublin player Siobhan McGrath returned from several years in Australia in time to watch her county march to a second All Ireland title last September, but not in time to return to the panel in time for the big day.
As such, Sunday’s victory against Cork had an added importance for her, returning to land a second personal title for the player who also took to the field when Dublin saw off Tyrone back in 2010. McGrath had watched the 2017 triumph from the sidelines.
“It’s hard to believe I came back this year and straight into a team that had won an All-Ireland, and we’ve won it again,” McGrath said with a wide grin after the game in Croke Park on Sunday.
“I think we all had the belief in each other that if we kept going, we’d get the scores we needed.
“They were getting a purple patch early in the second half,” McGrath said of the pressure period of the game, in which Cork gradually closed in on Dublin’s lead.
“They’re an incredible team, and we knew we weren’t going to get it all our own way. I didn’t fear we were going to fall short. We were patient and just played to our plan.
“I haven’t really thought about my own performance,” McGrath said, having dominated in a defensive and transition-play capacity.
“I think everyone worked hard, put in a lot of tackles and played a lot of good football.
“It was definitely a nicer feeling being on the pitch compared to watching last year, definitely,” she joked.
“I was sat in the Hogan Stand in 2017. I was delighted for them, though, it wasn’t tough. Dublin needed to get an All Ireland, we hadn’t won one since 2010. For the good of Dublin football, it needed to happen.”
After the run of final defeats leading into last year’s victory over Mayo, Dublin are now staring into a possible three in a row, a scenario that has an air of fantasy about it for this team.
“I think we’re going to enjoy this one before we think about next year,” McGrath said. “We won’t be thinking about it for a while yet. The Cork thing [a series of three final defeats from 2014 to 2016] was addressed in the build up but it was more about not buying into that.
“I think it was on the outside of both camps. We ignored it in the build up to the match but it’s a nice feeling. Certainly for me personally it’s a nice feeling after all these years.
“I suppose we do bring out the best in each other. It was a Titanic battle today. It’s always a good game for spectators to come out and watch, and I don’t think it was any different out there today.
“Everybody wants a free flowing game like that. The ref really enhanced a good game of free-flowing football out there, and that’s what we want and what spectactors want.”