GAA: Margaret just the tonic for Meath ladies

YESTERDAY Margaret Sheridan underwent surgery in a Dublin hospital, but tomorrow she will endeavour to be in Nowlan Park to cheer on her beloved Seneschalstown in the All-Ireland senior ladies football club championship final.

Despite suffering a brain haemorrhage recently, Margaret is determined nothing will prevent her watching her side's first appearance in an All-Ireland final that will also include her daughter Orla.

According to her fellow selector Geraldine Sheridan (no relation), Margaret is the rock the Meath club is built on and her presence alone would be a tremendous boost to the girls: "Soon after winning the county final Margaret became ill and we were without her for the first round of the Leinster championship.

"But she is so determined to be back for this game.

"The chairman of our club, Micky Dillon, is in hospital, too, and his daughter Elaine is on our team as well. So we are keeping our fingers crossed both will be with us tomorrow."

There is an air of excitement in the Royal County and last night county football manager Sean Boylan met the girls to offer his words of wisdom as they prepare to upstage one of the bigger names in the competition.

And despite the reputation of opponent Donoughmore, there is still cautious mood of optimism within the Seneschalstown camp.

"We have the height of respect for Donoughmore," explained Geraldine. "They have good forwards and at midfield have a very athletic player in Juliet Murphy.

"Overall, they are very strong. So, we will be expecting a physical game. Our girls know whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will succeed. We respect Donoughmore, but do not fear them. We are as good as they are."

With husband Damien - a former county player with Cavan - as trainer and two daughters Mary and Philomena, on the selection, the Sheridan home has been football-mad household these past few days.

Another plus for the Leinster side is the availability of captain Louise McKeever. Better known as Cheesy, the corner-forward made a welcome return from injury in the semi-final.

But, an All-Ireland final is a different, daunting task. And in spite of having eight inter-county players and being four-in-a-row county Meath champions, the club that was formed in 1995 is up against a star-studded Cork team who have already tasted success at this level in 2001.

"We have been there before," says coach Mossie Barrett. "This is our second final and, subsequently, we hope to dictate from the outset.

"We have seen Seneschalstown on video and they have a few exceptionally tall players. They have an unusual style and pump high ball into their forwards. However, we will play our own game just as we have done up to now. We have an abundance of talent at our disposal."

Such talent is epitomised in players like Murphy, Edel O'Sullivan, Hanora Kelleher, Rena Buckley, Mary O'Connor and Louise Murphy who have been instrumental in their path so far.

Meanwhile, in the junior final Gabriel Rangers will be hoping to get the afternoon off to a positive start for the southerners when they meet Fingallians of Dublin.

Although appearing in their first final, having won their inaugural county title earlier this year, the west Cork team are, nevertheless, positive in their approach.

"We are going up for a win," was the assured verdict from corner-back Christine Deasy, and, having taken such scalps as Austin Stacks and Dunmore of Galway en route to this decider, it is no wonder.

They will once again look to the scoring prowess of Nollaig and Emer Cleary sisters of former Cork player John and the experience of Gretta and Deirdre Walsh and Elaine Cotter to see them through.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up