Meath Ladies Preview: National League Final

The work is done. The long training sessions in the cold wet winter and the early Sunday morning sessions are complete. Skills have been improved and perfected, both players and management are ready. Jerseys are washed, programmes printed. Advertising and publicity are all complete. Promotion to division one league football for 2012 is secure. All that is left is to raise the Division 2 League Cup and defeat Dublin next Saturday. Sounds simple right?

Back at the start of the league, Meath Ladies were determined this was their last year competing in Division Two. After being relegated from Division 1 in 2007, the Meath Ladies senior team have had a rough journey, no one denies it. But the patience of many has been rewarded as Meath are back where they should be in the top tier of Ladies Football.

Next Saturday, Meath Ladies are looking for support in Parnell Park at 3.30pm. There is nothing quite like the rivalry of Meath and Dublin to get support for both counties and next weekend is no exception. Both teams will be eager to win the League outright, with Dublin as All Ireland Champs they will be expected to perform but there is no doubt that Meath will make it difficult for them and have aspirations of their own.

Meath have the players – the talent in the ladies dressing room is their strong point. The experience of captain Grainne Nulty, Elaine Duffy, Mary Sheridan and Katie O’Brien among others is combining nicely with the younger element who have had success of their own – Bridgetta Lynch, Kellie Allen, Vivienne McCormack, Samantha Monaghan and Cliona Murray and will not fear the blue jersey next Saturday. Belief will be key for this team to perform next Saturday – and their management, the county board and all their supporters will believe this team can win next week. There is no doubt that the team are also starting to believe it.

In an interview earlier in the season after defeat to Dublin, manager Paula Cunningham remarked that she would like another crack at the Jackeens – well this may just be the chance she is after. With a date with the Dubs on the 3rd July in the Championship (Leinster semi-final) next week’s final will be a benchmark as to how much the Royals have improved since their last date with the Jackeens and how much more work needs to be done before the Championship season swings into action.

Meath haven’t defeated Dublin since 2007 at senior level (All Ireland series play off Meath 3-12 to Dublin 3-08 aet), a fact that Dublin will be no doubt boosted by. They have their own stars – winning the All Ireland Championship last year they have current All Stars playing – none more so than Sinead Ahearne and Amy McGuinness who have a huge say in the outcome of a match. However, the facts, figures and all the history written since will mean little when the two teams get onto the pitch next Saturday. Meath Ladies football is going from strength to strength at the moment and next week’s final will make for interesting viewing.

Bord Gais Energy National Ladies Football League FINAL: Meath v Dublin next Saturday 7th May at 3.30pm in Parnell Park. Don’t miss it.

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