“In my teens Meath ladies football was just so far away from a senior All Ireland Final that it was something of a dream. I thought it was going to stay that way…
Come Sunday afternoon Máire O’Shaughnessy will assign a fantasy into existence when she lines out for Meath in midfield versus reigning four time champions Dublin.
Following their promotion from the Intermediate level in December of last year the Royal County have taken the highest rank of ladies football by storm, weathering Antrim’s efforts in the quarter finals before that match against Cork.
“I think the manner in which we won the game was really why [it was so special]” O’Shaughnessy says reflecting on their last outing.
“As the game went on and on and as Cork were popping in the goals it started to slide away from us a little bit, but we still backed ourselves and our system of play.”
“When panic hits we’ve practiced under it so much, that it kind of just became second nature and we were able to just remain calm.
“It kind of just shows that we’ve really matured as a team and we’ve grown, but also the grit we have.”
“I know it was a very proud day for the county. To show fight and to come back with the victory was a real great day for Meath football.”
A star studded selection at their disposal the analysation that followed often credited their never say die attitude, goalscoring ability and most importantly their conditioning for the triumph.
Máire O’Shaughnessy of Meath was presented with The Croke Park / LGFA Player of the Month award for June by Alan Smullen, General Manager, The Croke Park, earlier today.
For one who participated in athletics growing up but ultimately chose gaelic football above all, the primary teaching post grad student admits she “enjoyed running after a ball more than just running around track” but that there’s a lot to be said for every member of the Meath squad’s extreme fitness to get them over the line.
“They’re just incredibly dedicated, passionate and driven bunch… and you know you can’t teach that or instil it, that has to come from within” she says.
“Everyone on the team just wants to be better.”
Dedicated hours of training in preseason meant time on the ball was the only thing of focus to the management team upon their return, something which the Donaghmore-Ashbourne idol believes makes her side “stand out a little bit.”
🟢🟡@meathladiesMLGF overpowered The Rebels in the semis to earn their spot in the Final!
There they face 🔵Dublin in a bid to dash their five in a row hopes 🏆
Here’s 5 reasons why we think they can do it:
1.Never say die
— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) August 26, 2021
The “fair assumption” of their underdog spirit appears to be another attribute that undeniably stands to them, aided by that of their unwavering newfound support.
“There’s some really diehard Meath GAA fans and they’d follow the lads to the ends of the earth. In the last couple of weeks, you know, we’ve kind of seen the county just really get behind us and its really nice and encouraging.”
“You’re starting to see a lot more Kepak jerseys around Meath, which is obviously the girls sponsor so ladies football in Meath Is definitely growing.”
“It does feed down to the club levels and to under age groups too and the structures the County board have put in place are really developing Meath LGFA.”
Relishing the position they find themselves in, last year’s captain considers that their progression is precisely what has given them a new lease of life in that in 2020 “There was so much pressure on [the panel] to get up a senior because [they] were playing like a senior team, but just couldn’t get out of the intermediate grades.”
FOOTBALL: TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final – Meath 2-17 Westmeath 4-5
Now on https://t.co/ZgTNXx9jxm
Full @LadiesFootball Match Report with @decrooney @meathladiesMLGF @WestmeathLadies #LGFA #ProperFan #SportsDaz pic.twitter.com/FDbROEmNPd
— SportsDaz (@SportsDaz) December 21, 2020
“I feel like when we finally got up to senior, it was a big weight lifted off the team’s shoulder and we kind of just got to start playing freely and enjoying playing new teams.”
“Being let up at senior, was being let up to big school, we were just so happy to be up there and to be trying out new things and learning” she says.
The most colossal of opponents to come on Sunday, Eamonn Murray’s ladies are accustomed to the largest of stages at this point, this year’s final marking their fourth in as many years.
While O’Shaughnessy smiles that she doesn’t “know if you ever get completely used to Croke Park”, she is “looking forward” to throw in and “doing what we need to do in the game.”
Meath play Dublin this Sunday at 4:15pm in the All Ireland Senior final.