'There's nothing like club' - Interview with Dunboyne captain Annie Moffatt

Emma Duffy talks to Dunboyne captain Annie Moffatt ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland intermediate club final against Kinsale

EXACTLY two years after being crowned All-Ireland junior champions, Dunboyne find themselves in the top two intermediate teams in the country.

Parnell Park plays host to the All-Ireland intermediate decider between the Meath outfit and Cork’s Kinsale on Sunday, and it’s an occasion Dunboyne captain Annie Moffatt is relishing.

She was there in 2015 to collect a junior medal, and there are ’13 or 14′ other survivors from that fateful December day.

On top of that core group, there are younger players who have stepped up to the mark to lead Dunboyne to the top two in the intermediate ranks.

The year after many sides win a championship and progress to a higher grade is usually a bleak one. There’s transition, and often a struggle at county level.

But Dunboyne kicked on to reach the Meath decider. They were beaten on the day, but vowed to return stronger in 2017. And they undoubtedly have.

Moffatt begins: “I think the extra year in intermediate really stood to us because this year we came back and had so much hunger and desire to go all the way.

“It helped us having that extra year.”

But did she ever anticipate this, to be in another All-Ireland final two years later at a higher grade?

“It’s shellshock!” she grins.

“We had our gala event, an awards ceremony with the club, three nights ago and even the reception we got from everyone in the club, the men’s side as well, is just phenomenal.

Dunboyne captain Annie Moffatt (left) with Kinsale skipper Aoife Keating.

“To see everyone getting involved and getting on board, it’s brilliant. Hopefully we can bring the cup home Sunday.”

She adds: “We’ve had a massive following the whole way through. It doesn’t matter what part of the country we’re in, I’m sure it’ll be no different on Sunday. They’ll all be out.”

Their opponents on Sunday Kinsale have also had a remarkable rise of their own.

A junior team last year, they won Cork and Munster but fell at the final hurdle as Dublin side St Maur’s beat them to the All-Ireland crown.

And here they are, 12 months later bidding for the intermediate title.

“It’s massive,” Moffatt says of the two side’s respective rises through the ranks.

“I think in the last couple of years in Ladies football, the amount of teams that have just come through the ranks… When you get a run at winning, they just keep going.

“Every opposition at this stage is going to be fierce, going to tough. It’s great to see and hopefully it brings Ladies football up in general.”

On the topic of how much Ladies football has come on over the past few years, a documentary following the Dublin squad’s quest for All-Ireland glory was aired on RTÉ on Monday night.

The reaction to ‘Blues Sisters’ was unprecedented and gained traction across the length and breadth of the country.

“It was great,” she says of the watch.

“I know a lot of the girls were watching it and they were just in shock at the facilities and resources that they had. To see that that’s the direction that Ladies football is going in.

“Even at our own club level, to see 10 years ago, the men’s and women’s side would be very separate whereas now you’d see men that would never have went to a women’s game and all of a sudden they’re with us.”

Off the pitch, Moffatt works full-time in HR, but smiles that her life pretty much revolves around her beloved sport.

“Literally it’s pretty much football,” she continues.

“It’s good to have football. The bond that the girls have on and off the pitch is amazing. They definitely would be one of my closest group of friends. If we’re not playing football, we’re off doing something together.

“There’s nothing like club.”

They’re entering unknown territory, she notes, facing Kinsale. They know very little about them, but that makes things all the more interesting.

“We know they’ve got a strong forward line. They’re not too dissimilar to ourselves in that sense.

“We can only play our own game. The last couple of weeks, we’ve just been focusing on what we do well and hopefully we can bring that on Sunday and get the right result.

She adds: “We can’t wait. I think for the whole team, excitement is kicking in. The nerves will probably come Saturday and Sunday, but for now it’s just excitement. We can’t wait to go.”

And to add an All-Ireland intermediate medal to the junior one she has at home, how much would that mean?

“It would be fantastic,” she concludes.

“So many people have come up to me and they would have trained me when I was U8 or something, I don’t necessarily remember them but they can tell me all the stories.

“If we could go on and win it on Sunday and bring it home, it would be absolutely amazing for the club and the parish.”

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