DUBLIN manager Greg McGonigle was in candid form ahead of his side’s Ladies’ All Ireland final against Cork next weekend, describing his team as in “great spirits” going into the game.
“People might question our character after we’ve lost to them the last three times we’ve played,” McGonigle told GazetteSport. “I think that’s one thing that can’t be questioned, especially after digging out a result after giving up an eight-point lead against Mayo in the semi-final. It should stand to us. The big thing we’ve been talking about all year is how the subs have made the difference. They did.
“We’re where we wanted to be at the start of the year, and I think we expected – as much as Monaghan gave Cork a game – we expected the one team to be in the final against us to be Cork. That’s what we’ve planned for all along.”
McGonigle emphasized the growing experience of his squad ahead of the game, saying “I don’t think if you’d asked us ahead of 2014 or 2015 we’d have said we were anything less than ready, but I look at the likes of Molly Lamb, who obviously didn’t start against Donegal, coming back in.
“We’ve got Leah Caffrey back, as well as Sinead Aherne and Siobhan Woods. It’s strengthened the pack.
“The experience will also stand to us,” he added. “Last year, we started with nine players who hadn’t appeared in an All-Ireland final. Overall, we have the feeling that we’re a team with enough legs, in terms of youth, as well as enough experience through the likes of Sinead Aherne, Sinead Goldrick, Sorcha Furlong and Niamh McEvoy alongside them.
“There’s a confidence within the camp that we’re coming on, that we’re playing well and that we’re capable,” McGonigle argued.
Dublin’s opponents Cork have won 10 of the last 11 Ireland’s, their dominance broken only by Dublin’s sole senior win, in 2010. The 2016 final sees Cork once again holding a ten game winning streak, but the earlier stages of the championship have suggested that the top counties are more closely matched than ever more, in particular with Dublin clocking up a victory over their rivals earlier this season.
“In fairness I think we have to give credit to Cork,” McGonigle said of the record. “The best team usually wins on the day. We just weren’t cut enough in 2014, and Cork were the better team last year.
“You get exactly what you put in on the day. Hopefully come the 25th we’ll make our own luck. If we work hard and try to stick to the process I think we’ll have a successful outcome.”
The ladies’ football association hosted the single biggest day for women’s sport in Europe last year, attracting 31,000 to Croke Park for the finale between these same two sides.
With the increased commercial backing and a close match expected, this could be the biggest day in ladies’ football to date.