Only an elite few players ever get the chance to walk up the steps of the Hogan Stand in Croke Park to accept an All-Ireland trophy on behalf of their club or county, for most it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be savoured.
To do it twice in just two years and to do it with your own club, that really is the stuff of dreams. Well that dream was realised for Meabh McGoldrick on Sunday when she led her Eoghan Rua club mates up the Hogan Stand steps to accept the Agnes O’Farrelly Cup as All-Ireland Intermediate camogie champions for the second year in a row. There was as much relief as joy when I spoke to the Eoghan Rua captain after the game.
“This one really is all about relief after our first half performance out there,” she told Times Sport. “We dug ourselves into a bit of a hole but that second half showed the commitment and spirit there is in this team to get us over the line.
“We were probably a bit lucky to be only three behind, the two goals kept us in touch just three behind the nine points they scored. There was a strong wind in the first half and it really was a case of putting out fires rather that starting any ourselves as they were playing really well.”
When I put it to Meabh that Ardrahan squandered two great opportunities they were awarded late on when only three points separated the sides she never doubted her players. “The first one was maybe mis-hit a bit and went over the bar but I was still confident even when they got the second shortly after that if she went for goal that the girls on the line, Aileen (Moore), Jane (Carey) and Grainne would deal with it. As it turned out she hit towards Grainne’s side and she blocked it out,” she said.
The experience of the likes of Meabh, herself, Grainne McGoldrick, Jane Carey, Kelly Maybin, Maeve Dilllon and Grace McMullan really told in the second half. However the captain was full of praise for the team effort on the day including the younger players.
“Yeah it was a real team effort, particularly in the second half,” said Meabh. “All the young players stepped up and Megan (Kerr) scored two really good points at crucial times.”
The Eoghan Rua outfit might not get much of a break with county and Derry league commitments looming but Meabh was looking forward to some ‘free’ time out. “We’ll savour this for a while now but we’re still looking forward to the new season, we’ve a good group here at the minute and you really have to make the most of opportunities like this. If we were lucky enough to progress in Derry again we would be moving up a grade so that is another huge challenge that is out there,” she added.
Typical of the Eoghan Rua captain, always looking forward to the next challenge, no wonder they have won two All-Ireland titles in a row with such a positive attitude!