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This article is part of a series of feature interviews prepared for the Dublin Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association ahead of their All Ireland 2016 final with Cork.

For Sorcha Furlong, one of the most experienced players on Dublin ladies 2016 senior panel, this season has been very much about change – changes in roles, changes in her position and changes in her approach to the game.

One of an ever-dwindling number of survivors from the county’s only All Ireland win in 2010, Furlong gave serious consideration to her role before the season started this time around, before deciding to sit out the league stages of the season, and take on an eight-week coaching role at the county’s under-21 side ahead of their All Ireland tournament instead.

With the under-21s going on to win an All Ireland, Furlong’s decision was not only a success, but had the benefits of a change of pace, helped forge still stronger connections with the senior team’s management and gave her a break at the relatively blunt end of the season. An added bonus came in the make-up of the under-21 side, many of whom are also involved in current senior panel, allowing Furlong to firm up her own senior relationships.

“I really enjoyed the change,” Furlong said of the experience. “It’s great to see the younger players come through, and a lot of them have a role on the senior panel now. I could see what it’s like on the sidelines, which has given me a greater understanding of what’s going on the pitch. It can be quite a narrow view when you’re playing.”

“It helps a good deal in terms of relating to Greg [McGonigle, Dublin senior manager] and Bobby [McNulty, the first team coach and selector],” Furlong added. “I was trying to avoid doing things for the sake of it, because I’ve been doing this a while now. I want to do what counts.”

“I told Greg I wasn’t keen on a full season,” Furlong said of the decision, made shortly after the final last year, “but I kept training myself, I kept going with the fitness work.”

Furlong, in fact, has been playing at various age-groups in the Dublin set up since around 2003/2004, which means her county involvement is now approaching half of her life. Outside of the sport, she’s a P.E teacher, though despite her school having a football program, she prefers to take a step away, and is currently involved mainly in teaching volleyball.

Dublin GAA logoThis article is part of a series of feature interviews prepared for the Dublin Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association ahead of their All Ireland 2016 final with Cork.

Always a football lover, Dublin ladies’ first team coach and selector Bobby McNulty got into the managerial side of things early: he’s been coaching for longer than he’s been an adult.

Starting at his own club, Thomas Davis in Tallaght, McNulty  – a garda outside of his love of football – worked his way up the sidelines of a number of underage panels before moving on to minors, under-21s and the senior men, as well as working with a number of Dublin age group sides. His Dublin minor side, alongside Conor Barry, won two Leinster titles and made an All Ireland final in 2013, before losing out to Galway in a replay. And then came the ladies’ seniors.

McNulty joined Greg McGonigle with Dublin senior panel in 2015, with the pair setting their eyes firmly on the All Ireland, a prize that had proved – by the narrowest of margins – elusive for the capital county over the previous couple of years.

“A few years ago, we wouldn’t have won that game against Mayo,” the coach says of the county’s recent semi-final victory. “Sinead Aherne having the confidence to put aside her earlier miss to put over that [match winning] point is the mark of a major player. We didn’t have a good second half, but we always knew it would be close.”

That semi-final saw Dublin snatch a last-gasp winner against the Connacht powerhouse through a break that was finished by the brilliant composed Sinead Aherne from a tight angle, with the westerners having earlier whittled away a substantial halftime lead and looking to be edging into control. McNulty believes that the days when these narrow games went against Dublin are a thing of the past; that the girls in blue are mentally tougher; composed and better equipped for the battle.

“We are very, very closely matched,” he says of the forthcoming finale against Cork. “If we get everything right, we could come out the right side of a single score game. The midfield battle is key, especially as Cork have two serious players in there; Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley are highly experienced. Obviously they’re a challenge.”

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