McGonigle plans Rebels’ downfall

by Gazette Reporter

IN A season where Dublin Ladies Football will be looking to take that coveted final step and overcome the dominant Cork outfit who edged them out of the All-Ireland final in 2015, manager Gregory McGonigle has a key focus: marginal, season-long gains.
“We want to win the league, that’s the first thing,” he told GazetteSport. “We want to go through the gears every game we play.
“Every day we go out we want to give our best for the Dublin jersey. We want to leave the jersey in a better position than when we came in. It’s about improving inches, and hopefully come September it will look after itself.
“We always talk about 1%,” he says. “Sometimes I think Armagh talked about inches. It’s about getting every advantage you can get, to me it’s maybe getting the belief into the girls; letting them know that we believe they’re the best team in Ireland. I believe if we do that this year, the trophies will take care of themselves”.
The focus, for McGonigle at least, will be very much internal. “We talked about setting our own standards and not worrying about what’s going on in other counties,” he says. “Cork, Monaghan, Kerry and Mayo are all going to have the same ambitions. We just need to make sure we put all the building blocks in place.”
There are reasons for optimism, too, with Dublin’s performance in 2014 arguably their strongest since the squad took home the All-Ireland title back in 2010 – the only break in 11 years of Cork dominance.
“I think skills levels are something we can improve on, and if we can incorporate the fitness into the skills levels so much the better,” McGonigle says.
“This is the strongest squad we’ve had over the three years I’ve been in charge. There are girls coming back from travelling, and younger girls coming through from minors. The likes of Lauren McGee will add to the squad.”
While post-Christmas games certainly fall into the “pre-season run out” category, preparations on the management end have been under way almost since the last ball was kicked in September.
“As a management team, we probably took a week off after the All-Ireland final,” McGonigle said. “Then we did a two week review amongst the management team, then started meeting with some players who we thought might be undecided about January.
“We also had a couple of senior team meetings reviewing last year. It was more a preview than a review. We’ve had a busy year. I’ve been down watching maybe nine college games, six championship matches. We’re always working.
“We have a squad of 35 or 36 picked for this year and ready to get up and going. We’re back in the gym this week for a fitness test, and then back on the pitch for training; full steam ahead for the nine months really.”
Speaking of the value of the Dub Stars match on Sunday – largely an exhibition match, but one that marks the start of the year in earnest – McGonigle said: “It’s better than a first day being straight back in training, to get a look at some players and give recognition to a few who might not be on the panel.
“There were some decent performances on both sides, Molly Lamb, Sinead Aherne, Sinead Goldrick for Dublin and Fiona Claffey for the Dub Stars impressed me.
“There’s only so much you can read into it, but It’s great to be back out and back at it for another year with a really strong squad.
“Some passes went astray at the game. But it would be very harsh to be looking at players on January 3 and expecting them to be where we want them at the end of September. There were a lot of decent passages of play and some great scores.”
The Dublin Ladies get their season under way in the league on January 31, when they take on Kerry at home. They take on All-Ireland champions Cork – also at home – on February 28.

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