by Declan Rooney
Dublin captain Sinéad Aherne says her side has no divine right to claim a second TG4 All-Ireland title on the spin and that there are no guarantees of success – even if they are widely fancied to claim the Brendan Martin Cup for the third time.
Aherne is her side’s longest serving player and this season’s top scorer for the Sky Blues, with 4-24 from her five games.
She had seen plenty of disappointing seasons before last year’s success, however, as the 2017 win came hot on the heels of three final defeats in a row to tomorrow’s opponents Cork.
But having experienced a hat-trick of final defeats before she won her first Celtic Cross in 2010, Aherne knew there was a way out of the maze.
Similarly this year, she knows a win does not automatically kickstart an era of dominance like Cork tasted in the past.
“Those games were very fine margins, I think from our own perspective we have always been pushing right up until the end of the season,” said Aherne.
“For us it didn't come automatically or come immediately, but I think the fact we won last year brings no guarantee that it is going to happen for us this year. We just have to take each game as it comes, that is the approach we have to take on Sunday.
“I think (being champions) just gives you a confidence that is in there subconsciously. We had some tight games which we came through in the league which was good to see. Whether it had a bearing or not it is hard to tell.”
The St Sylvester’s clubwoman had a different view for the 2015 All-Ireland final though. She had taken some time away from the game to travel and only returned a week before the Cork decider, but she still wanted to play her part.
That fact that the door was immediately opened for her to come back into the camp says a lot about the togetherness of the squad and, like her colleagues, Aherne wants to shine on the biggest day.
“I was doing water on the line. I was down on the Cusack Stand sideline. Unfortunately it just didn't go our way on the day. That is sport.
“Looking in from an outsider’s perspective in 2015, I enjoyed it, but obviously it was another tight battle they were involved in.
“It isn't easy to lose finals, but I think it is something that is part and parcel of the game. We are looking forward to Sunday, to get our performance right.”