Monday 24 September 2018

Dublin ladies let the cameras in because it paid for their meals

Dublin captain Sinead Aherne and her Cork counterpart Ciara O’Sullivan in Croke Park yesterday ahead of Sunday’s TG4 Ladies All-Ireland SFC final. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Dublin captain Sinead Aherne and her Cork counterpart Ciara O’Sullivan in Croke Park yesterday ahead of Sunday’s TG4 Ladies All-Ireland SFC final. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Dublin's ladies footballers may, like their male counterparts, be All-Ireland champions, but the only reason they let a documentary team shadow them last season was because it paid for hot food at their training sessions.

An independent film company followed the Jackies' journey to the 2017 TG4 All-Ireland senior title, which they won, before a record 46,286 crowd, after losing the three previous finals.

The resulting fly-on-the-wall documentary 'Blues Sisters' was lauded for the unique insight it gave into the players' commitment, training levels and personal challenges. They're back to defend their title against Cork on Sunday.

And Dublin manager Mick Bohan has admitted that he had serious reservations about giving such close access to his players and that the team only agreed to it because of the €17,500 fee involved.

"People talk about finance in Dublin (GAA) but at that time this group were coming to training and weren't getting fed," Bohan said.

"I still remember the conversation I had with Sinéad Finnegan about coming to training and going home at half-ten at night and having beans and toast.

"Sinéad Aherne, who had a high-pressure job with KPMG, told me that getting home to Malahide at 10.30-11pm on the nights she trained, having not been fed, left her body depleted. Our food bill last year was €17,500.

"When Loosehorse (the film company) said they would cover it, that's what made the documentary happen. That was the decision."

Dublin men's and women's teams are both sponsored by AIG but Bohan revealed that the women's team previously did considerable collective fund-raising to fund their training meals.

"We started off running a golf classic and did coaching courses for clubs. All of that went back into the kitty for the players," he stressed.

"So for someone (the TV company) to come along then and say they were going to cover that (food) bill, that was massive for us."

Even though the people who suggested it - former Galway player Pat Comer and Cormac Hargaden of Loosehorse TV - had serious film-making and GAA credentials, Bohan was reluctant to allow it.

His biggest worry, after players' privacy, was that they might lose another final and the show would heap further misery on them.

"Once we had that (the funding) and once we had an agreement that they weren't going to show anybody in a light that was going to make them uncomfortable, we went ahead with it," he revealed.

"I don't think anyone sold their souls and I think they gave a really good insight into the group."

Bohan said the film also went a long way to showing just how hard inter-county women train.

"In the aftermath of the final it wasn't just girls coming up to get jerseys signed, it was boys as well. They (the players) had earned that and the documentary went a huge way to breaking down barriers."

Irish Independent

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