Dublin’s Amy Connolly celebrates with Phillippa Green after their win over Armagh to reach the All-Ireland final. Picture: Piaras O’Midheach

GREGORY McGonigle hailed the influence of the bench as the Dublin ladies Gaelic footballers saw off Armagh 2-16 to 2-5 last Saturday in Parnell Park to reach the All-Ireland senior championship final for the second consecutive year.
His side got off to a flying start before Armagh made some inroads in the second half only for Dublin to reply with a salvo of their own to win by a handsome margin.
Speaking to GazetteSport after the match, the manager described it as “a decent performance”, saying: “We played well with a lot of solid performances all around the team.
“The changes we made in the key areas – like Sarah McCaffrey coming off the bench to kick 1-1, Olivia Leonard coming in too – was maybe something we didn’t do last year in regard to our subs maybe making an impact.
“It’s a big thing we have been championing all year with the subs, saying ‘can you make a difference?’ Thankfully they have.”
He also paid tribute to the defensive elements of the side in limiting a potentially dangerous opponent to just, nullifying the Orchard county’s key elements.
“Our intensity and work rate were very good as was our discipline. Olwen Carey had a serious performance and is possibly the player of the year at the minute. Amy Connolly did a serious job in the middle of the field. We will be happy with how we performed but maybe we didn’t convert as much as we could have and gave away some silly possessions.”
Carey is only two years out of the minor grade while full-back Muireann Ni Scanaill was in similarly staunch form. Their progression is a particular source of pride for McGonigle who says that they are indicative of where the side is going.
“This team might have got some stick when we were in the Leinster championship with where we were with the young girls coming in. I have huge belief in this very young side; it’s still in transition. We have six of the 15 who played in the All-Ireland final last year.
“That’s a credit to the club structure in Dublin and we have the benefit of working with them and the Under-21s from the last two years pushing on. For me, it’s about trusting these young girls to step forward.”
He finally paid tribute to the influence of Hannah Noonan, a player who won the 2008 All-Ireland junior championship with London. English by birth, she decided to take a career-break to pursue a potential All-Ireland and produced another powerhouse performance around the middle exchanges.
“For someone to put a career on hold to come on a whim to play county football! I am just happy one of the girls, when I watched the All-Ireland Sevens, told me she was interested in coming to Ireland. I just said make sure she comes to Dublin!
“There’s a great buzz about her and the Dublin girls have taken her in under their wing. It’s not ‘there’s the English girl’. She’s a Dub, the same way as I am from outside Dublin but we’re now true Dubs!”