‘It’s very much a role that is shared’ – Dubs captain on cusp of being first ladies four-in-a-row captain

DUBLIN CAPTAIN SINÉAD Aherne insists that the leadership role is a collective effort in their side, but it is the St Sylvesters’ star who is on the cusp of earning a prestigious individual accolade on Sunday.

Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne.

Mick Bohan’s side are chasing their first-ever four-in-a-row when they take on old rivals Cork in the All-Ireland final.

They already created a bit of history in last year’s showpiece as they overcame Galway in torrential rain to become just the third county in ladies football to lift the Brendan Martin Cup on three consecutive occasions.

Cork are already in that club, along with Kerry.

Dublin are hungry for more glory in 2020, but there’s an additional honour on the table for Aherne should they succeed this weekend.

She is on the brink of becoming the first player in ladies football to captain a team to a four-in-a-row. At the moment, she stands alongside Cork legend Juliet Murphy as a three-in-a-row skipper. Murphy was captain of Cork’s 2005-2007 triumphs.

“I’m very privileged to be captain of this team,” Aherne told the media last week when asked about the prospect of entering a league of her own.

When Mick came in, there were a number of candidates who could do that job so, it’s a privilege for me, but it’s very much a role that is shared throughout the team.”

There are further stats available that underlines the magnitude of what Aherne is set to achieve in 2020. Firstly, it would bring her one step closer to equalling the record held by fellow Dublin hero Stephen Cluxton.

He has lifted the Sam Maguire during each of Dublin’s five-in-a-row, and might be doing so again on Saturday after the All-Ireland SFC final against Mayo.

The Kilkenny hurlers and Kerry footballers both famously enjoyed four-in-a-row successes, but neither had one captain during their respective winning runs.

Aherne is close to reaching a distinguished class, but it’s always about the team in her eyes.

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“There’s a lot of leaders that have come to the fore for us over the last number of years. On any given day, we have people that can stand up all over the pitch and do that. It’s a great position for us to be in.” 

Aherne lifting the Brendan Martin Cup after last year’s final.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Cork and Dublin share an intriguing rivalry in ladies football. This will be the fifth time they have collided in the All-Ireland final since 2014, with Dublin coming out on top in their most recent meeting two years ago.

Prior to that, it was Cork who was claiming the spots in the win column. It will be a unique occasion with no fans permitted to attend the final in Croke Park, but Aherne is confident that it won’t affect the level of bite in the game.

“We haven’t been in that empty a venue before. I don’t think it’s going to make a huge amount of difference. Thankfully we have the experience of being in Croke Park before so I don’t think it’ll be too big a factor.

We know a lot about Cork. We’ve played them a number of times over the years and they’re a fast, attacking team. They defend very well and I don’t expect anything too drastically different on the day.”

Having the championship in the winter time has been an unusual adjustment for teams this year. This was especially true for the All-Ireland semi-final between Cork and Galway, which was played in terribly frosty conditions in Croke Park.

Dublin come into the final with some similar recent experience of adverse championship weather. The persistent rain that hampered last year’s All-Ireland final is still fresh in Aherne’s mind.

“Obviously, the low score shows the difficulty that both teams had on the day. It’s very hard to know. It’s nearly like it was the worst kind of rain; the drizzle that sits on a pitch. It’s very hard to know what it’s going to do on 20 December.

“I’ve a lot more practice training in poorer conditions coming up to this final. Hopefully skillsets will be high and we’ll be able to adapt and deal with it on the day. I don’t think either team will be pulling any punches going into the match no matter what the weather is.”

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