Monday, July 22, 2024

‘We almost had it’ – Mick Bohan gracious in defeat as Galway end Dublin’s All-Ireland run

Must read

The rainbow over Donnycarney had long disappeared.

Dublin’s summer was over. A week on from Padráic Joyce’s triumph a couple of miles away, Galway Bay FM had another stirring commentary for their Jukebox.

The previous Saturday also, The Saw Doctors were playing down in Fairview Park.

The Galway girls were dancing on the turf of Parnell Park after their TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship quarter-final success against the champions.

As the Conservatives well know, a year is a long time in football.

Twelve months ago, Dublin played Donegal in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Ballybofey.

It was a Sunday fixture. The team travelled on the Saturday.

The season before, Donegal had knocked out the Dubs at the same stage in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Donegal were favourites last summer. The Dublin team had seen many changes.

But the victory in Ballybofey poured back the belief into the Dublin boots.

And for them to go on and win the All-Ireland was Mick Bohan’s finest achievement of all.

They produced an absolute masterclass against Kerry on that August afternoon in Croke Park.

This time, Dublin were happy to be back home for the last-eight clash. A reward for topping their Group.

They worked hard to overcome Liam McHale’s Mayo in Parnell Park before winning handsomely in the sunshine of Newbridge against Kildare.

Yet Mick was taking nothing for granted. “Galway are a good side. They are always a threat. You are always waiting for them to click.”

In their League meeting this term, Dublin beat Galway by a point in Parnell. It was a thrilling game. Galway were unlucky not to have got anything out of it.

Surprisingly, Galway were subsequently relegated. Along with one of the giants of the sport, Cork.

Now Galway will meet Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final in Tullamore on Saturday, July 20.

The Dublin boss had no complaints as he stood outside the pavilion reflecting on the game.

He commended the commitment of his players. The sacrifices they make to wear the Dublin jersey.

“We did well out there to weather the storm. but, at times, little things went wrong. We just didn’t play with our normal flow or confidence.

“We always have a huge respect for Galway. I thought they were excellent in the closing stages.

“We almost had it. It would have been a tremendous victory, but Galway stuck at it.”

Galway were last in the All-Ireland final in 2019. Dublin won. In the wind and the rain.

Over 56,000 attended. The Dubs regretted they hadn’t put on a better spectacle. To showcase the game in its finest china on the biggest day for the sport.

They never mentioned how dreadful the conditions were. Bohan’s Bible doesn’t include a chapter on excuses.

Deep disappointment for Dublin now, but this was a contest that brimmed with excitement.

“Fair play to both teams. They both really went for it,” declared Galway’s Nicola Ward.

She had also played at the venue in December. As Kilkerrin Clonberne defeated Kilmacud Crokes in the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship semi-final.

It went to extra-time. Just like this one.

The lights had long come on in the Press Box as the players sucked hard on their oranges.

At half-time in extra-time, Dublin led by a point. They then attacked the church end.

A cluster of young Dubs had gathered behind that goal, with their Dublin flags.

A surging run from Caoimhe O’Connor brought a free. Hannah Tyrrell put Dublin two points to the good.

As ever, Leah Caffrey and Lauren Magee were bringing the game to the opposition. Bursting out with the ball.

It looked like Dublin would advance. But Galway hung in tight.

“We knew we had a big performance in us,” reflected Nicola Ward.

Aoife O’Rourke’s late, late goal changed everything.

In the last seconds, Dublin were still knocking hard on the door. Hoping for a Jude Bellingham moment. It was not to be.

The ball was cleared. Time was up. Galway 3-7 to Dublin’s 1-12. A mere point.

It had come down to inches. As it often does.

The Dublin captain, Carla Rowe, looked on from the dugout. Injury ruled her out, as it did Orlagh Nolan and Kate Sullivan.

In the number 18 jersey was Sinéad Aherne. A wonder of the game. Still popping the passes. And clipping over the points.

She has been on the Dublin bus for over two decades. An inspirational figure.

After the Leinster final win over Meath, Mick Bohan stated: “We’ll be judged on our performance in the All-Ireland series.”

Nobody could say a bad word about this magnificent group of players. And people.

The same in victory and defeat. Living by Kipling’s words of “treating those two imposters just the same.”

As Dessie Farrell said about his Dubs seven days before, Mick Bohan could say the same now.

“They died with their boots on.”

Latest article