McCaffrey goal sinks Mayo as Dublin run riot
Dublin 4-11 Mayo 0-11 All-Ireland Ladies SF final
Mick Bohan guided Dublin to TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football glory at Croke Park yesterday and then revealed his "hurt" at how his midweek comments on Mayo superstar Cora Staunton were construed.
Bohan suggested that Staunton could "intimidate referees" - remarks which drew a fierce response from Mayo coach Peter Leahy.
However, insisting that he has huge respect for 35-year-old Staunton, Bohan moved to clarify his position after watching his team claim a comprehensive 4-11 to 0-11 victory in front of a record-breaking 46,286 attendance.
Mayo had three players sin-binned and finished the first-half with just 13 on the field, after goalkeeper Yvonne Byrne and defender Rachel Kearns were yellow-carded.
But the Westerners dug in and were just three points behind, 0-10 to 1-10, with eight minutes left, before Orla Conlon was sent to the line.
Back down to 14 again, Mayo went for broke by committing to attack, but Dublin picked them off on the counter-attack, as Sarah McCaffrey- senior men's star Jack's sister - came off the bench to score two late goals, with Carla Rowe adding another in a five-minute purple patch.
Dublin had led by 1-6 to 0-6 at the break, Niamh McEvoy's goal the difference, as Mayo hung on grimly.
The sides were level five times before McEvoy's 18th-minute effort. but Dublin skipper and top-scorer Sinéad Aherne missed a penalty after Byrne fouled her and Player of the Match Noelle Healy struck the post approaching the break.
Mayo couldn't get any closer than three points in the second-half, before the floodgates finally opened.
For Dublin, the memories of final losses in 2014, 2015 and 2016 were washed away as Mayo, appearing in their first decider in a decade, came up short.
Speculation will now turn to the futures of Mayo manager Frank Browne and experienced players like Staunton, Byrne and Martha Carter.
It was a mixed bag of an afternoon for Staunton, who scored seven points (three from play), but also registered eight wides (seven in the first-half).
Browne suggested that Bohan's pre-match remarks may have influenced match referee Seamus Mulvihill.
Bohan, for his part, took the opportunity to clear up any confusion.
He said: "I was very disappointed. And that probably shows why people don't open up. If you take a full conversation and put it out there, it represents the topic better.
- Watch: Jack McCaffrey joyfully celebrates his sister Sarah's goal during Dublin's All-Ireland final win
"But if you take parts of a conversation and put them out there, it does not represent what the topic is about.
"It did hurt me and I was concerned that it would hurt the group. And that was a bit of a weight I carried over the last few days - but I will learn from it."
Browne wondered: "Was the referee got to with all the stuff that was going on during the week?
"Some of the comments about Cora intimidating referees, for not just an icon of Ladies Gaelic Football but of Irish sport, I think it was a little bit over the top.
"I don't think it put Cora off her game by any means, she's too much of a professional to allow something like that, but it probably wasn't really in the best interest of the sport."
Bohan acknowledged that Dublin, despite losing defender Sinéad Finnegan to a calf injury in the first-half, had a plan in place to deal with Staunton.
She was often marked by two players and at full-time Bohan was eager to deal with the situation that blew up during the week.
He said: "Just on that, I was nearly sure I used the word influence.
"But when I spoke to people, I was having a football conversation. I didn't use it, I didn't throw it out there to influence the referee. I literally, unwisely, sat down and had a conversation about football. There you go, it was a learning curve for me.
"It hurt me during the week to see those things put out. Ultimately what could I do? I had to take it on the chin. My job is to try and protect my team."
Wexford native Browne was in charge when Mayo lost their previous final appearance in 2007.
- Watch: 'We know the pain of defeat, it can be overcome' - Sinead Aherne's All-Ireland winning speech
And he said that straight after another heart-wrenching loss wasn't the time for talking about the future.
He reflected: "The one question really would be about Cora and what she's going to do. Far be it for me to make any decisions for her. She's always said if she was fit, healthy and enjoying her football, she'd continue to play.
"We need to go away and lick our wounds, ease the pain a bit. Nobody died. I don't mean that in a flippant way, but we lost a game a football.
"Yeah, it's hard and it's going to be a hard couple of days, but like Mayo people all the time, we have character, and we'll come back in some shape or form."
The future is much brighter for new champions Dublin.
Scorers - Dublin: S Aherne 0-9 (7f), S McCaffrey 2-0, C Rowe & N McEvoy 1-1 each.
Mayo: C Staunton 0-7 (4f), G Kelly 0-2, A Gilroy & N Kelly 0-1 each.
Dublin: C Trant 7; M Byrne 7, S Finnegan 6, R Ruddy 7; S Goldrick 8, N Collins 7, L Caffrey 7; L Magee 7, O Carey 7; C Rowe 7, L Davey 7, N Owens 7; S Aherne 8, N McEvoy 7, N Healy 9. Subs: D Murphy 6 for Finnegan (18), F Hudson 6 for Byrne (46), S McCaffrey 8 for Davey (50), M Lamb 7 for McEvoy (53), H O'Neill 6 for Owens (56).
Mayo: Y Byrne 6; O Conlon 5, S Tierney 6, M Carter 6; R Kearns 5, M Corbett 5, F Doherty 5; A Gilroy 7, F McHale 6; D Hughes 6, N Kelly 6, C Whyte 5; S Rowe 5, C Staunton 7, G Kelly 7. Subs: A Tarpey 7 for Whyte (24), Whyte for Tarpey (34), A Dowling 6 for Whyte (41), S Howley 5 for G Kelly (57).
Ref - S Mulvihill (Kerry)