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'He didn't think my head was in it' - How Éabha Rutledge bounced back to play part in Dublin's All-Ireland win

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Dublin Senior Ladies footballer and All-Ireland winner Éabha Rutledge pictured at Deer Park Mount Merrion in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Dublin Senior Ladies footballer and All-Ireland winner Éabha Rutledge pictured at Deer Park Mount Merrion in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Dublin Senior Ladies footballer and All-Ireland winner Éabha Rutledge pictured at Deer Park Mount Merrion in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The football career of Dublin All-Ireland medallist Éabha Rutledge is best summed by a line from Indian poet Avijeet Das: “Never lose hope. The darkest cloud precede the loveliest rain.”

She went from being nearly showed the exit door in the spring of 2019 to playing in Dublin’s All-Ireland final victory over Galway last September.

Rutledge switched from wing forward – she still plays there for Kilmacud Crokes – to corner-back and the trajectory of her Dublin career changed overnight.

Though she made her league debut in 2015, she couldn’t secure a first team spot. Eventually team boss Mick Bohan took her aside one evening and told her she was about to be axed from the squad.

“He didn’t think my head was in it. He said ‘You know, we have to make a cut after the league and currently you’re one of the names on the list’.

“He said ‘Give yourself a week, show us why you want to be here and train hard.’

“I had spoken to him about maybe changing my position. I wasn’t getting on too well where I was playing or breaking through over the past three years. So I changed to a back and just loved it.

“It was nearly like when he took something away from me I wanted it even harder. My mentality changed completely when I was in the backs. It just suited me more.”

At first it wasn’t all plain sailing. She didn’t count the number of scorable frees she conceded in the early matches at corner-back. “I was working on my footwork with the defence coaches, extra bits of training just to break in and thankfully I did.”

She was looking forward to the championship even more this season having become a regular. But now everything has been put on hold for the foreseeable future.

“It is a bit of a setback but it has given us that bit of time. I am trying to look at it positively. It does let me improve skills. Maybe I wouldn’t have had the same amount of time to do that if the championship was going ahead.”

orking from home – she is a fund accountant with JP Morgan– she has been following a training schedule provided by the team management but is on a break at the moment. And she is trying new hobbies like baking.

“I’ve never baked before in my life but I’ve been trying to look up new recipes just to keep myself busy and try and stay positive.”

* Éabha Rutledge was speaking to support the AIG 20 x 20 ‘Show Your Skills’ competition for the month of May. Visit aig.ie/skills for further information

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