Psychologically Dublin’s Win Over Cork In The All Ireland Final Was A Game Changer
The Dublin senior ladies footballers win over Cork in last year’s All Ireland final was a game changer for Mick Bohan’s side psychologically and finally buried the ghosts of the past.
Dublin headed into the final as reigning All Ireland champions having finally circumvented that particular obstacle against Mayo in the final to claim their first title since 2010.
But there were still veiled remarks and questions about Dublin’s achievement the previous year because it wasn’t achieved against a Cork side that had inflicted heartbreaking defeats on Dublin in the three previous finals.
Although Mick Bohan’s side had reached the promised land and claimed the holy grail and in some style, there was those that still questioned if there was irreparable psychological damage done to the psyche of the Dublin players that would resurface again when in the seasons ahead the two great rivals met again in championship fare.
As evidence to back up those claims the Lidl National Football League Semi Final encounter between the sides months earlier which Cork won by 1-16 to 0-13 was put up as exhibit A. Cork had also beaten Dublin in round 3 of the Lidl NFL 2-11 to 1-08.
The first test of how robust or fragile the Dublin psyche was when pitted against Cork came early in 2018 in round 3 of the Lidl NFL under the full glare of the Croke Park floodlights.
Two goals from Olwen Carey and one from Carla Rowe put Dublin in the driving seat and with 40 minutes gone in the game Mick Bohan’s side led by eight points.
Then came the inevitable fight back from Cork, the pressure was relentless till the finish, Dublin were held scoreless for the final 20 minutes and as Cork started to reel off the points and reduce the deficit memories of the 2014 All Ireland Final came flooding back.
But the Dublin players dug deep, throwing their bodies on the line to block the ball and cut off the space in the scoring zone, this was the Sky Blues moment of truth and the opportunity to begin the process of burying the past.
This time there was to be no glorious Cork comeback, Dublin held firm and passed the first test of their mental fortitude to claim a one point win on a scoreline of 3-09 to 1-14 and record their first ever win over their Cork nemesis in Croke Park.
It was a significant victory, but still despite Dublin going on to claim their maiden Division 1 League title in May against Mayo, there were still doubters who were still to be convinced and stuck to the narrative that it was only the league and beating Cork in the championship was a completely different prospect altogether.
The draw for the championship looked to have been picked by the sporting Gods as the only possible meeting between Dublin and Cork would be on the biggest day of the year for Ladies Football.
The build up to the All Ireland Final was peppered with questions about the past for the Dublin players, the media wanted their thoughts on those three gut wrenching final defeats at the hands of Cork.
They too were convinced that there were psychological scars there and continually probed for confirmation of such in interview after interview.
But there was an air of confidence and authority in the Dublin players response that they had moved on, learned the lessons and the past was the past and of no relevance to the next chapter of this epic rivalry.
Dublin were certainly talking the talk but now needed to walk the walk and bury the ghosts of the past once and for all and silence the doubters.
And Mick Bohan’s side certainly walked the walk in the All Ireland Final, their mental strength and character was tested to the full in the first half and first quarter of the second, but neither were found wanting and remained unbendable throughout.
First half goals from Sinead Aherne and Carla Rowe gave Dublin a four point lead at the break with the score 2-06 to 1-05.
Although Cork got within two points of Dublin twice in the second half Carla Rowe hit the killer blow with a brilliantly taken goal with 11 minutes left in the game which broke the spirit of Cork and Dublin claimed back to back titles on a scoreline of 3-11 to 1-12.
For Dublin it was a hugely significant win because it was against their biggest nemesis, in the championship, in Croke Park and on All Ireland Final day, all the doubters silenced, all the questions answered and the past left in the past.
It was a game changer, if there had been any doubts in the players heads they were put to bed and confidence and belief reached new levels.
Tomorrow in Nowlan Park the two sides go again, another test for both teams and their extended squads. In the same venue two years ago at this stage of the competition it was Cork who claimed the win.
But that was a different time, the script and roles in this next episode are reversed. Dublin are now the reigning All Ireland and League champions, Dublin come into tomorrow’s Lidl NFL semi final having triumphed in the autumn sun in September and it’s now Cork with the questions to answer.
In the most recent meeting in round 7 of this year’s league campaign Cork claimed the win but that will count for little tomorrow afternoon.
For a start both Dublin and Cork were already through to the semi’s, plus it was a fairly experimental team shorn of many of their All Ireland winners that Mick Bohan put out that day and tomorrow’s team which includes eight changes from the last meeting with Cork will be a completely different prospect for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side.
Cork need to prove a point that last year’s defeat was not a changing of the guard particularly with the championship fast approaching.
But Dublin also want to prove last September’s win wasn’t a once off and will also be aiming to hold onto a division 1 league title that was a long time in the waiting before it took up residence in the Capital.
Mick Bohan expressed that his team were hurting after the defeat to Cork a couple of weeks ago, that’s a strong motivational factor for Dublin tomorrow.
It’s sets it all up to be an intriguing and potentially classic game in Nowlan Park and although still early in the season it could also be a defining game for both teams for the rest of the year.
The action gets underway in Nowlan Park at 2pm and there will be LIVE score by score updates over on the We Are Dublin GAA Twitter feed @wearedub