Jackies start to motor as Sinéad Aherne and Carla Rowe

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THE final whistle sounded. In a Clann Mhuire downpour. People ran for cover.

he Dubs had just beaten Cavan, 5-14 to 2-4, in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies’ Football Senior Championship.

The first day out for the Leinster Champions in Group A. And a solid display amid the rural splendor.

The host club had gone the extra yard. They have a first-class venue. In such an inspiring location.

Football goes deep into the bones in these parts. And the arrival of the Dubs turned Saturday into an occasion to remember.

It was a bright afternoon. But the stiff breeze had a major say in the debate. Playing all kinds of tricks with the ball.

After their showers, the players of both sides began to drift in for their meal. In the large sports hall at the clubhouse.

Shortly, Dublin manager, Mick Bohan, was among them. He saw a cluster of reporters in the corner and went over.

“Did you get something to eat?,” he asks. Before answering some questions of his own.

He was happy with the performance. The Dubs got the job done. And did it very well. With the minimum of fuss. 

Sinéad Aherne was back from injury. The city is a better place when she’s on board Dublin Bus.

Mick took a moment to talk about Sinéad, who donated 1-1 to the kitty. And invested so much more.

“It was back in 2002 when I became involved with Dublin and we brought her in as a young 17-year-old,” he recalled.

“For any sports person to still be going out and having the appetite that she has is just remarkable.

“With Sinéad in the group, I feel stronger as a coach. You feel more confident when she is in the dressing-room.

“And I’m not just talking about the player. It’s what she does around the edges. The education she brings to young girls.

“If I had a daughter involved, I’d certainly want her to be around Sinéad because of the messages she passes on. For us to have her here for this campaign is just incredible.”

Mick praised the host club, and what they had done to make the team so welcome. The Dubs rolling into the village had caused a stir.

And he hoped that any young spectators would leave with a headful of notes. About what it takes to wear this jersey.

The Dublin boss felt it was a “good afternoon’s work. The conditions were tough, but we managed to put up a decent score.

“It was good to see players coming back like Sinéad (Aherne) and Carla (Rowe). It was important that they got game-time.

“It makes a difference when you have your experienced players back. Especially at this time of the year. Championship time.”

Dublin were well in command at the break, leading by 2-6 to 0-3. With the strong breeze to come after the jaffa cakes.

Carla Rowe scored the opening goal at the entrance end, with Aherne slipping in the second. And in the second period, Nicole Owens twice rattled the garage door. Her second goal nearly took the net from its rigging.

Cavan had some bright spells. Their full-forward, Áine Reilly, is a quality footballer. And they possessed plenty of pace in the legs.

They hit some picture scores. One of the best was a first half-point from Niamh Keenaghan following a neat necklace of passes.

The opening goal of the second half came from Aisling Gilsenan who caught the ball on the laces to send it soaring to the attic.

And their second goal, right on time, was the most perfect penalty, converted by Lauren McVeety, as her sweet left-footer floated to the top left-hand corner.

Cavan chief, Gerry Moane, praised the efforts of his players. “We had some good passages in the match when we were able to drive at Dublin. And we’ll learn so much from a match like this.”

The Dubs will go to Tipperary next Sunday. “Playing in the Group, with four teams, means more games, and that’s where your squad comes in,” noted Mick.

“We’ll be using the next few weeks to give players game-time. If you don’t use your squad, you can over-use players. So we’ll see where that brings us.”

He was pleased with the toil that the players put in. He recalled Kate Sullivan’s intervention that led the way for the opening goal.

Kate made the hard yards, came up behind the Cavan player, stole the ball and put Dublin on the attack.

He also saluted the efforts of Sinéad Goldrick in winning the dirty ball. A skill she has perfected for so long.

“Our defending was good. We got some good blocks in. And that’s a skill that also takes time to perfect.

“Our foot-passing was also impressive. I felt we were a bit narrow in the early stages, but when we became more expansive, the game opened up.”

Even facing the strong wind in the first half, Dublin still endeavored to play the ball out from the back. Playing short, crisp passes in a bid to open windows.

It was the wise thing to do. Any high punt, in the gale, was going to resemble a kite in the North Dublin sky. And was likely to end up in the lap of the Gods.

Carla was revelling in the surroundings. In the town she knows so well. Scoring 2-3.

Hannah Tyrrell curled over a couple of gems, and Lyndsey Davey also contributed to the collection. Running to Skerries and back in the process.

All the six starting forwards scored. With one of the best points of all coming from Caoimhe O’Connor in the second half.

Yet, as Mick always says, it’s the hard work at the coalface that puts the money in the bank.

Making the yards. Making the passes stick. When Carl Rowe added to the account in the first half, the gallery was still applauding but she was already looking to see that every Cavan player was picked up.

In the beauty of the North County, that’s the graft that keeps the kettle boiling.

 



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