Wednesday 21 March 2018

Dubs have learned lessons from final collapse, insists Furlong

Dublin defender Sorcha Furlong
Dublin defender Sorcha Furlong

Michael Verney

It's a year that still torments them in Cork, but for Dublin's Sorcha Furlong, 2010 marked the first and only time the Sky Blues sat atop the ladies football ladder.

Modern-day aristocrats Cork suffered a shock quarter-final exit to Tyrone that season, their only blip on a near flawless record spanning 11 years. Dublin capitalised on their misfortune to become the only other Brendan Martin Cup winner since 2005.

The scale of the task they are facing is something that isn't lost on Furlong, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"Well, if you are going to become All-Ireland champions you have to beat the best and they have been the best consistently for the past ten years now," the tigerish defender said.

"We got one sneaky title in between, so they have been the standard bearers.

"I would have always said it would be nice to beat Cork along the way, and we're looking forward to that challenge."

The St Brigid's half-back and her team-mates inexplicably squandered a ten-point lead to the same opponents 12 months ago.

But they have regrouped excellently and powered back to Croke Park to set up an intriguing rematch. Gregory McGonigle's side have learned harsh lessons and Furlong is determined to exorcise last year's demons and exact sweet revenge.

"My memories would be that we lost, but we had a great performance for the first 45 minutes or so," she stressed.

"We have to take a lot from that - that we did play very well and we had the better of them for that period.

"It was just Cork being as good as they are, coming back at us very strongly. They finished a lot better than us but you have to try and learn a few things from it, and make sure you don't make the same mistakes again."

With eight of last year's team absent from the current squad, she describes it is as a "completely different" 15, with younger girls making the breakthrough and possessing a "winning mentality."

"There are a good few of the girls starting now that would have been involved in the panel last year. We've had a really strong underage set-up in Dublin the last couple of years and they've won the last two U-21 titles," she said.

"So there's a huge turnover from that team coming into the panel and they would have beaten Cork in underage finals as well, so they have that winning mentality.

"It's been a great boost for me personally. I'm the eldest on the team at 29 so seeing all of the younger ones coming in trying to chase my jersey makes me work that little bit harder to make sure I hold on to it."

Last year's heartbreak is something Furlong doesn't want to experience again and she's relishing the task ahead.

With Jim Gavin's men winning last Sunday, the ladies bid to make it double joy in the capital.

"I've been in the losing changing room twice and the winning one once, so I know which one I'd prefer to be in on Sunday," she said.

"It's great to be there beforehand but nobody wants to be there if you lose."

Irish Independent

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