SATURDAY All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Mourneabbey v Foxrock/Cabinteely (Dublin), Bray Emmets, 3pm.
EIMEAR MEANEY will take to the field in Bray tomorrow alongside her UCC teammate, Ciara Crotty, but this time out they’ll be wearing opposing colours.
Both are defenders, with Crotty studying Medicine and Meaney in her third year in Speech and Language Therapy, and both will be looking for redemption.
Crotty, a former Dublin panellist, will be key for the Leinster champions, Foxrock-Cabinteely, but so too will Meaney at centre-back for the former senior All-Ireland finalists Mourneabbey.
“Yeah, it’s mad to think we’ll be playing against each other in an All-Ireland club semi-final, but we haven’t seen too much of each other to talk about it.
“I haven’t been doing much training with UCC as of yet because there’s been so much going on with the club, and Ciara’s the same, so I’ve only seen her in passing.
“The next time I’ll probably see her will be on the pitch on Saturday!”
Meaney has returned to full fitness having suffered a bug prior to the Munster final three weeks ago against Waterford’s Ballymacarbery, however, the 20-year-old wasn’t going to miss starting out in her fourth successive Munster Senior Championship final.
“I started but I had to come off, so I didn’t contribute much.
“We had girls who came in and slotted into different positions so from that point of view it was good.
“We were happy to get over the line. We met Ballymac two years ago in Mallow and beat them, so we knew that would be a big motivation for them, to get one up on us.
“We were aware that they had a lot more experience this time out having returned to the senior inter-county championship with Waterford, so we were happy to get by them and get back to an All-Ireland semi-final.
“We were rusty because it was a few weeks since we played St Val’s in the county final. It took us a while to settle into it because in previous years we had been more or less straight into the Munster championship, bar a few days, but this year was different.
“It’s hard to get challenge games at this time of the year as well, but things have been competitive in training so we’ve kept ourselves ticking over.”
As to injuries, Shane Ronayne’s side have been keeping themselves in check, prior to departing from Mourneabbey on Saturday for Bray Emmett’s GAA Club.
“Everyone is good, thankfully, because this time of year people are more susceptible to being sick and injured so we’ve been making sure that we’re all minding ourselves that little bit more. We’ve a few niggles here and there, and a few people are resting up, but that’s more precautionary more than anything.”
The squad trained on Tuesday and Thursday, and preparations will be quite similar to last year, however, the Cork champions will be hoping that they don’t fall at this juncture again.
The side that defeated them 12 months ago, the reigning All-Ireland champions, Donaghmoyne of Monaghan, suffered a shock defeat to Ryan McMenamin’s St Macartan’s of Tyrone (3-4 to 1-8) a fortnight ago, and Meaney was among those surprised by their departure.
“I was very surprised. We probably just presumed that they’d come through because they’d done so much damage over the last few years. I didn’t even pay too much attention to the Ulster final to be honest, because we were all glued to Twitter getting the lowdown from the Carnacon Kilkerrin-Clonberne replay in Ballyhaunis.
“I wouldn’t be aware really either of the calibre of the other teams up the country, but St Macartan’s are obviously very strong if they’re after coming through. They came in under the radar and we didn’t pay enough attention to them, but we’ll focus everything now on ourselves.”
As to tomorrow’s opponents, Meaney knows only too well what will be on the minds of the Foxrock-Cabinteely players, who include former Dublin captain Sinead Goldrick, Niamh Collins, Hannah O’Neill, and Tarah O’Sullivan.
“Well, Donaghmoyne beat them in the final last year, and I think they lost the semi-final the year before so they have that motivation factor. They know what it’s like to lose an All-Ireland semi-final and a final, as do we, so both teams are coming in knowing what’s at stake. They also have a lot of Dublin players and a lot of experience.
“We know they do a lot of work on and off the ball, and they’re a very fast team. There’s no question they’ll be a very tough side and they’ll definitely will put it up to us. But, as I said, we both know what it’s like to lose an All-Ireland semi-final and final, and we’ll be both going out to redeem ourselves.
“We’re looking forward to getting out there now and trying to make it back to an All-Ireland final because that’s where we wanted to get back to at the start of the year.”
Elsewhere, Connacht champions Carnacon of Mayo will take on Ulster’s St Macartan’s in Fr Hackett Park at 2pm on Sunday.