A euphoric Mick Bohan entered his post-match press conference on Sunday proudly sporting Dublin gear after a historic weekend for the county.
“What a weekend to be a Dub”, he repeated in a satisfied tone.
And so it was. After the county’s momentous five-in-a-row win on Saturday evening, the ladies footballers created their own bit of history less than 24 hours later by lifting the Brendan Martin Cup for the third year in a row.
As a panel, Bohan’s side attended the original final two weeks ago against Kerry but the manager found himself “emotionally drained” after the tense encounter. And so for the replay, he had to put aside the Dublin fan in him, as much as he could, and focus on his own task at hand.
“Isn’t it amazing?
“At the end of the day, we’re involved with the ladies team but we’re Dubs. That was something you want to be involved in and yesterday with the replay, you can’t be. You try and block out something that’s really important to you and yet it can’t affect you.
“We have girls involved with relationships with some of the lads or siblings and you’re investing so much of yourself. Can you imagine? You support each other all year long and then you can’t even go to the game.
“We’re obviously immensely proud. What a weekend to be a Dub and to be involved in the GAA family. You bring up your sons and your daughters to play the games and within 24 hours of each other, we have presented incredible sports heroes to people in this city and that is part of what we are trying to do.”
With the entire county, and indeed country, wrapped up in proceedings in Croke Park, it’s no surprise that Bohan found it difficult to step away from it all. Not that he didn’t try. The Clontarf man filled his day with tasks, he had a barbeque, went for a swim, and cut his mother’s hedges. Yet he couldn’t help but sample the atmosphere.
“I drove through town yesterday afternoon with the kids in the car and the windows open to try and get some of the energy from the city into the car. I knew I was going to be missing it and as I said, we’re Dubs.
“We would have wanted to be there yesterday but it wouldn’t have been the right thing.”
As Bohan sat back in his chair, he appeared a man who was savouring every second of the glorious achievement of his side.
After three years of heartbreaking final losses in 2014, ’15 and ’16, they had now achieved everything they never thought possible. On top of that, they did so in front of a record-breaking crowd of 56,114 in Croke Park. The team never sought to be on the front line of promoting women’s sport and cast into a role model limelight, yet they have embraced that responsibility.
Bohan relayed the incredible story of the team’s mascot, Niamh McMorrow, who, against all odds, carried out the match ball on Sunday in front of her heroes.
“Nine or 10 months ago she had an epileptic fit and fell down the stairs in her grandmother’s house. She severed her spine. At that time, it was quite bleak. Obviously she had to go through surgery and the chances of regaining the power of your legs is very slim.
“Her Dad, in fairness to him, set a goal quite quickly after she had surgery. If we were to get to an All-Ireland final that she’d lead us out.
“Even at that time, our medical staff and the girls who are involved in medicine themselves would have said that it possibly was an unrealistic goal.
“Gaelic games is her sport, was her sport, and we would have felt her achievement today was bigger than ours. The fact that people call on you for that type of stuff is just, I think, remarkable.
“We were immensely proud of her and it did mean an awful lot to our group, for anyone that might have seen what happened outside.
“I grew up with Jimmy Keaveny, Brian Mullins as our heroes. Realistically, a lot of girls have grown up with Johnny Sexton, Brian O’Driscoll, Paul Flynn as their heroes.
“Now, look what has happened. That’s why that exposure to female sports – and we didn’t come in banging a drum for this by any means – the bottom line is the knock-on effect of key role models like you have here is so important.
“To see those things… as we all know, there’s more to sport than just sport.
“That’s one of the things that comes out of days like today. You win a medal or a trophy or whatever else, but there’s so much more to life than that. If we can keep recreating that situation for everyone: good role models to aspire to, I think that’s a massive success.”