Ladies football has been leading the way in the promotion of women’s sports in Ireland in recent years.
While the 20×20 campaign was launched last October, the LGFA were a step ahead of the curve as they have worked tirelessly over the last number of seasons to make their All-Ireland final one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar here.
In 2013, for the first time ever, over 25,000 people attended the All-Ireland final, when Cork defeated Monaghan. Last September, over 50,000 people saw Dublin defeat the Rebelettes.
One of the Cork players playing on that historic occasion was Eimear Meaney. While the crowds attending are numbers that wouldn’t be believed possible not long ago, the next step is to get supporters coming to games earlier in the year.
“(The LGFA) has done tremendous work at getting people to the finals but unfortunately, the semi-finals, the quarter-finals, the qualifiers all those games, the league games, they don’t have the support that we would hope to have,” she said.
“We played Dublin last weekend in Mallow, it was our first time meeting them since the final last year. Obviously a different venue, a different crowd to the 50,000,” she added, referencing Ephie Fitzgerald’s charges five-point win.
“It was really nice to get that win. We don’t need any motivation, we know exactly what we are aiming for in September.”
The sides meet again in the league semi-final, after Cork recovered from losing two of their first three games to win four on the bounce to end the round-robin phase in second place.
“The league has gone reasonably well and hopefully we can make it to the league final and go all the way and then start thinking about championship.”
Since losing that All-Ireland final, there hasn’t been much time for rest for Meaney.
Between winning an All-Ireland club title with Mourneabbey and being part of UCC’s O’Connor Cup side which reached the semi-final, the games have been coming thick and fast for the final year Speech and Language Therapy student.
“You bounce back after Christmas and you don’t have much of a choice but to get fit and get back into it, you are playing championship games very early on in the year.
“That develops you while you are playing league with the county so it’s really good to get those games in.”
Eimear Meaney was speaking at the UCC Sport Star awards where he was one of 13 athletes from the college honoured