EOGHAN Rua captain Meabh McGoldrick has had to get used to fielding questions after the club’s series of recent successes.
Winning the Derry and Ulster championship for the first time in the club’s history has meant that Meabh has been in big demand after games for a quick comment. She has been in even more demand since the club’s last minute victory over Lismore that seen Eoghan Rua into the All-Ireland Intermediate final against Laois Harps this Sunday afternoon in Croke Park.
The Eoghan Rua captain does most of her talking on the pitch where she has turned in a series of commanding displays from her centre back role. Despite her youth the University of Ulster student is now a key player in a side that has a good blend of youthful verve and solid experience. Not that Meabh is concerned about how the younger players will handle the big occasion that is playing an All-Ireland final in Croke Park.
“Naw, I’ve no worries about our younger players,” said Meabh. “Some of them have only been playing in our senior team for a couple of years, they’re loving it, now they’re getting to play in Croke Park, so happy days, it’ll not faze them one bit. I might be more concerned about some of our players who have been about the side a lot longer and have been trying for this for a while now,’ Meabh added with just a hint of a smile.
Meabh is fully aware of the challenge that Laois Harps will put up to the Eoghan Rua side.
“We know they are a very experienced side and have played and won a number of big games, the fact they have won five county senior titles in a row shows they are a serious outfit.
“They have a number of players on the Laois county team and we heard that Laois put off a number of games recently because they don’t want to play without the Harps players, that says something about the impact these girls can have on a game,” she said.
Croke Park will have its undoubted fascination for supporters of Sunday’s finalists but for the players who actually get to do the business on the pitch there is only one thing on their mind and Eoghan Rua captain Meabh McGoldrick is clear on what it all means to her and the Coleraine camogs.
“We had a walk around Croke Park last weekend, the whole panel and management, so hopefully that wow factor has been done and dusted now and we can just concentrate on the game,” said Meabh.
“We simply see Croke Park as a pitch like our own; it’s a big wide pitch which will hopefully suit the way we play. We’ve got a lot of good runners and we like to play the game at pace, the wide open spaces and super surface should suit that type of game.”
Showing a steely resolve ahead of their biggest game in their short history Eoghan Rua’s skipper was quite clear on what’s at stake and the ‘Croke Park’ factor.
“We’re just going to go out and play the game the way we’ve played all our games so far on this journey which has taken us to the final.
“It’s going to be important that we don’t let the ‘Croke Park’ factor get to us and really we’ve been telling the girls that it’s only going to be a day to remember if we win it,” added Meabh.
Meanwhile Eoghan Rua club chairman Brendan McLernon was effusive in his praise of the camogie team’s success to date. “Everyone at the club is very proud of the camogs’ achievements so far. The squad and management have put in a tremendous amount of work, particularly preparing for the All-Ireland semi-final and now Sunday’s final, they have been relentless this past 10 weeks or so and a lot of their work was done in the very poor weather conditions.
Brendan continued: “I know they have been preparing both physically and mentally to try to deliver the very best possible performance they can. As a club you can’t ask any more of the players and management.
“If our team plays to its best then we will be hard to beat. Harps will rightly start as firm favourites as they have played and won at this level over the past few years but I know our squad approaches each game with the same attitude, ‘respect all, fear none’.”
The Eoghan Rua chairman said he was delighted at the messages of support from teams in Derry and Ulster and from other sporting bodies in the Coleraine area. He paid particular thanks to Coleraine Rugby club who made their ground available to the Eoghan Rua camogs for training under lights over the last few weeks.