Being an All-Ireland winning manager is something to brag about but Mick Bohan is not the type of man to do that.
The Dublin ladies football manager described the week to ten days after winning the Brendan Martin cup as full of celebrations and a “massive sense of relief for the players”.
Bohan is on his way to one of the many events he’s booked for following his team’s success when he recalls the day.
“As the Mayo team came out to warm up, the crowd erupted and I thought surely we are not going to be outnumbered here.” Sure enough, the Dublin fans filled the stadium and contributed to a record breaking crowd of 46,286.
The 2017 All-Ireland final attracted a larger crowd than the ladies FA Cup final, Rugby World Cup final, Euro 2017 final and the Champions League final.
The ladies football final had a larger attendance than some of the biggest events in women’s sports.
The huge crowd did not change the game plan as experience played a role for the Dublin team. “All except two of our players were at Croke Park before in front of crowds of 36,000 people,” said Bohan.
Good weather, the family oriented nature of the event and the backing from the men’s team, LGFA and Lidl are all reasons the Dublin manager gives for the record attendance and the “fantastic atmosphere”.
It appears the divide in men’s and women’s sport closed and the Dublin teams came together to support each other and encourage crowds to support the county.
Dublin’s 4-11 to 0-11 victory over Mayo was described by Bohan as “a huge lift to women’s sport”.
“All the support was great and we love to see the crowds but playing good football is the best way to keep people coming. We were playing good football and inequality in sport is no excuse for us not to try play the best possible football.”
This was Dublin’s second Brendan Martin cup victory, but the last year has not been an upward trajectory of success for the players. Sinead Goldrick lost last year’s All-Ireland final and All-Ireland club football final.
In fact, Bohan explains that Dublin’s recent success comes after almost two barren decades. “The quality of coaching has improved immensely. The access to information and feedback to coaches is far better now than in the 1990’s in both the men’s and women’s game,” explained Bohan.
Many commentators have discussed the dominance of Dublin and speculation of splitting the county into different teams has been raised but Bohan does not agree with this assessment.
“Fifteen years of work has gone into the present structure you see in the Dublin setup. But there is more work to do. The development squad system in the women’s team is nothing compared to Galway or Cork.”
Mick Bohan praised his players, the fans and everybody else except himself. He described his own feelings in the week following the All-Ireland victory as a “reflection on a job well done”. Unwilling to praise himself, the hard work and professionalism of the Dublin coach is clear to see in his team.
The focus for the Dublin manager and his staff for next season is “striving to be the best and playing attractive football”.
Bohan does not allow inequality in sport or any gender issues prevent his team from believing they can be the best they can be or play football as attractively as any men’s team.
The future of Dublin ladies football looks bright but after many barren years perhaps it is time for those involved to simply enjoy the moment.
Bohan patrols the sideline against Mayo. Credit GAA
By Gavin Hyland