Sunday 19 November 2017

Tierney: I beat myself up over free, but worse things happen

Mayo's Sarah Tierney. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo's Sarah Tierney. Photo: Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

With the benefit of hindsight, Sarah Tierney looks back on it now with a sense of perspective.

In the closing stages of last year's TG4 All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, Tierney tangled with Dublin's Sinéad Aherne on the left touchline and referee Brendan Rice whistled for a free-in.

From a tight angle, Aherne made no mistake with the resultant kick and Dublin won by a point, leaving Mayo distraught.

Tierney took it particularly hard, feeling that she had let everybody down, particularly the older players like Cora Staunton, Yvonne Byrne and Martha Carter.

But maybe, she reasons, that trio might not have committed to another season if Mayo had gone on to the final, win or lose.

Instead, the hurt experienced in that Kingspan Breffni dressing room has helped to bring Mayo to a first decider in ten years. On Sunday, they'll face Dublin at Croke Park, and captain Tierney hopes to lift the Brendan Martin Cup at full-time.

She says: "Life is what it is - the loss to Dublin last year happened for a reason. We might not be where we are today if we ended up in Croke Park last year.

"Regardless of the result, we might not have Yvonne Byrne, Cora, Martha Carter back in with us.

"We were very disappointed obviously in that dressing room in Breffni Park. We had a big talk and without saying it, we all knew there was one more year in everyone and that's been the driving force for us."

Hollymount defender Tierney (26) admits that she's carrying a sense of unfinished business.

"It is a personal motivation for me," she explains. "I suppose everyone knows the craic from last year - I gave away the free. It comes down to small little things. I beat myself up over it, I was bitterly disappointed for the likes of the older girls, who I thought might have ended their careers that day.

"It was my fault that we were within 30 seconds of the All-Ireland but looking at it with hindsight, I'm glad it happened me and not one of the younger ones. I'm well able to deal with it now at this stage, it's just another game, and there are worse things happening in the world.

"As I said earlier, it happened for a reason. I don't think we'd be where we are today if that hadn't happened last year. We had a hunger to get back."

For Tierney, the wheel has come full circle as she was 15, going on 16, when she was first called up to the Mayo senior panel in 2007.

"There was no pressure on me that day. I remember the girls were bitterly disappointed and my two club-mates, Christina and Marcella (Heffernan) announced their retirements in the dressing room."

Both teams will be unchanged for Sunday's decider. Dublin manager Mick Bohan has kept the faith with the same 15 that scored a resounding victory over Kerry, while Frank Browne has stayed with the same starting 15 that secured Mayo's place in the final.

Irish Independent

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