There was an atmosphere in the air yesterday, Sunday 31st July’22, an atmosphere of anticipation that comes to the counties that have tasted success at the All Ireland level.
Meath has been lucky to have drunk from the cups of success and again in glorious fashion the Meath Ladies Team achieved that ultimate accolade.
It was replicate of their counterparts in the great Boylan era when Meath brought the two Sams home back in 1987 and 1988, Sam Maguire and Sam Og.
Myself, I wanted to bring my two granddaughters home from Canada to witness the occasion, however, a long-planned family commitment put paid to that plan.
There are times you have to succumb, this was one. Many of the family and many others were denied meeting up for years, covid, overseas work and living, you name it they were genuine factors this bank holiday weekend.
I accepted to an armchair seat, so to speak, not before having to collect the cursed contraption my mobile phone. I’d left in Leons, Market Square, Navan,
By the way, it was doing a good thriving trade and provided a hearty breakfast menu on the sun-drenched day that was in it.
Listening intently to Brendan Cummins on LMFM, the Dunsany native wasn’t shy and yes maybe partisan on the local station. He wasn’t holding back, passion in his voice, a little bit concerned at the early Kerry lead of five points.
I continued to listen and picked up the game as we drove on Cummins was giving his all but not at all happy with the punishment being handed out to the Australian-bound Vicky Wall by the Cavan referee. She would later in the second half get a yellow card! for what, ask the referee- and again, the outstanding Vicky got her marching orders but in truth, the game was now comfortable in the bag at that stage.
Meath appeared in disarray early on, the hot fancied girls of Meath , went off as firm favourites at 8/13 on Bar-One Bookmakers books. It was going to be a battle.
Disaster too for me, again!,the mobile went awall again! as I took the left turn onto the inner relief road out she goes, Meath five points down and that contraption taking on a life of its own crashes to the road.
Was this really happening? Yes, it was Cummins’s voice that confirmed Meath were in the mire and I wasn’t in to0 good a spot myself.
Action was needed and the girls got going and started pulling the game back. Great moving and passing a great goal! more great moves and some great points Meath were firing on all cylinders now.
My phone now retrieved, Cummins now settled, me too, with phone safely back in the car, Meath were on the roll. Kerry still hanging in staying in the game but some good scores but Meath were finding the routes to win and doing what great teams do, knowing how to win. There’d be no turning back now but still a game to be won.
I was back in the house now, T NA G on, all were glued to the channel, everyone there was watching, maybe not catching the Irish language but sight is still a great gift, the lessons will come later! Fact, in this living room, more men than women watched the game early on but that balanced up as the game progressed. Meath wasn’t relinquishing the cup. The goals came the game was in the bag but it’s never over till the hooter sounds.
In the final analysis, Kerry Girls got off to a strong start but could not muster the goals of the semi-finals but Eamonn Murray the Meath coach was playing a very strong blanket defence system with a powerful counterattack strategy. Meath Ladies weren’t going to leave the doors open. To me the speed, the clever movement from defence to attack was inspiring and they persevered and got the result.
It was a full team performance as Shauna Ennis the ladies captain later went on to say in her match-winning speech It was the panel and the backroom team but overall if you ask me it’s the leader Eamonn Murray who knew how to guide them. that is what wins All- Ireland titles. All Irelands are the pinnacle of GAA and aren’t won easily and the Meath Girls did that but also defended it.
There was some crowd up there in Croke Park, the crowds are getting bigger by the year. There is now a balance and hard-won respect by the good ladies of Ireland .’Mná na h’Eireann ..’ as our first lady president Mary Robinson once rallied to the nation.
The Martin Cup is coming back to the Boyne Valley with the green and gold ribbons to the flags and banners festooned across the great county of Mhi.
Back in the house, two little Irish-Canadian girls will soon be sporting their new Meath Girls jerseys as they cross the pond back to Toronto their Irish roots firmly established.
‘Mam ‘says the eldest girl ‘ I didn’t know I had so many cousins Irish cousins…’ there was more than All-Ireland won here tonight it was their heritage, their DNA.
Somewhere back in the archives, a term I heard came to the mind ‘the native loves his(her) home shore’.
Yes, you can take that to the bank of life and it’s priceless!