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.
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.”