Dublin have been earmarked as favourites to win Sunday’s All-Ireland senior ladies football final against Cork, however, captain Sinéad Aherne is taking nothing for granted.
Mick Bohan’s team are aiming to retain the Brendan Martin Cup for the very first time in the country’s history, following previous successes in 2010 and 2017.
Aherne is her side’s longest serving player and this season’s top scorer for the Dublin, with 4-24 from her five games.
She had seen plenty of disappointing seasons before last year’s success, however, as the 2017 win came hot on the heels of three final defeats in a row to tomorrow’s opponents Cork.
“We know the challenge we’re facing, there’s familiarity of course but equally every game stands on its own.”
Having experienced a hat-trick of final defeats before she won her first Celtic Cross in 2010, Aherne knew there was a way out of the maze. Similarly this year, she knows a win does not automatically kickstart an era of dominance like Cork tasted in the past.
“Those games were very fine margins, I think from our own perspective we have always been pushing right up until the end of the season,” said Aherne.
“For us it didn’t come automatically or come immediately, but I think the fact we won last year brings no guarantee that it is going to happen for us this year. We just have to take each game as it comes, that is the approach we have to take on Sunday.
“I think (being champions) just gives you a confidence that is in there subconsciously. We had some tight games which we came through in the league which was good to see. Whether it had a bearing or not it is hard to tell.”
The St Sylvester’s clubwoman had a different view for the 2015 All-Ireland final though. She had taken some time away from the game to travel and only returned a week before the Cork decider, but she still wanted to play her part.
That fact that the door was immediately opened for her to come back into the camp says a lot about the togetherness of the squad and, like her colleagues, Aherne wants to shine on the biggest day.
“I was doing water on the line. I was down on the Cusack Stand sideline. Unfortunately, it just didn’t go our way on the day. That is sport.”
“Looking in from an outsider’s perspective in 2015, I enjoyed it, but obviously it was another tight battle they were involved in.”
“It isn’t easy to lose finals, but I think it is something that is part and parcel of the game. We are looking forward to Sunday, to get our performance right.”
Throw in for the Ladies Football All-Ireland senior final between Dublin and Cork is at 4pm on Sunday, 16 September at Croke Park. Earlier in the day, Limerick and Louth meet in the junior final at 11.45am while Meath and Tyrone clash in the intermediate final at 1.45pm.