The tribal roars of women, their daughters, sisters and mothers echoed through Croke Park as Meath reclaimed her All-Ireland crown in an exciting encounter.
The Meath and Kerry players battled like Trojans, so close in skill and determination during an incredible final, finishing 3-10 to 1-7.
Little girls waved Kerry and Meath flags and blew horns to celebrate the most exciting day of the year for women’s sport in Ireland. A young boy stood shoulder to shoulder with his younger sister as they proudly waved their Kerry flags at the Hogan stand.
Within seconds of launch, Kerry had scored – much to the delight of fans who had traveled all the way from the UK to Dublin.
And just moments later, a second and third point were scored as fans chanted “Kerry, Kerry.”
However, Meath never wanted to lie down and just minutes later the Royals scored the first point of the game. From then on, though they fought hard, Kerry was repeatedly beaten back by a dark and impenetrable Meath side.
This game moved at breakneck speed and only served to prove that the All-Ireland Final is the place to meet for the best of the best, regardless of gender.
The screams of 46,440 at Croker proved that this sport is a dream machine for so many women and girls looking for real life heroes to look up to.
Síofra O’Shea did her best to help Kerry come back from the loss with a point – but any small wins that were made were overwhelmed by a determined Meath.
“Up the Royals,” cried a little girl as she looked up at her grandmother. Her battle cry was met with a smile of approval.
Lorraine Scanlon helped Kerry cut the score to 1-05 against Meath’s 1-08 and it seemed possible that the Kingdom could potentially come back.
In the early moments of the second half, the two were almost level with Meath 1-09 against Kerry’s 1-07.
However, the Royals upped the ante and Niamh O’Sullivan scored a second goal, completely breaking through the Kerry defense. Meath fans stood up.
Just moments later, Bridgetta Lynch, a 26-year-old pharmacist from Oldcastle, Co. Meath, hammered again and again, missing first but scoring on the second try.
Despite her hugely impressive attempts, Kerry just couldn’t break through that Meath wall.
Teacher Niamh O’Sullivan (32) scored again for Meath to give her team a 3:10 to 1:07 lead just before the end. This was enough to persuade some Kerry fans to get up and leave the stadium – their hope had already died.
Shortly thereafter, the final whistle blew and Meath’s dreams came true.
The Royals reigned at the top for the second year in a row. The kingdom had fought with pride, but lost through sheer determination.
Meath’s Niamh O’Sullivan told TG4: “I couldn’t describe it, it’s like a dream” as the fans screamed in delight at their well-deserved win.
The Royals held up the Brendan Martin Cup as fans went wild.
Meath’s Shauna Ennis, a 28-year-old teacher, thanked her team and the Kerry side for the “fight” and told her rivals she felt like she could be back next year.
Meath fan Ashling Jordan and daughter Hannah, 3, and friends Aoibhinn Doyle, 3, Lauren Collier, 8, and Sophie Collier, 16, celebrated before heading home to Dunshaughlin.
“It’s wonderful for women’s football,” said Ms. Jordan. “It’s my daughter and her friends’ first time here and it’s fantastic that they were able to see it.”
The girls’ father, Sean Jordan, added: “My daughter is starting Under-4s next year.
“It’s great that the girls were able to see Meath win today.
“It’s a reminder that girls can do anything.”
Rachel Andrews, 28, was in attendance with her friends, sisters Kim, 28, and Gemma Saurin, 27.
“We’re from the Bellewstown Club,” said Mrs. Andrews. “This is a proud day for all of us. It’s not about this being a girls game anymore.
“This is Meath and it’s GAA. My father and my uncle are here today.
“It’s been a long time, but we’re finally getting the recognition we deserve.”
Noeleen Quinn and daughters Emily (8), Clodagh (6) and Kaylee (11) from Navan were also happy about a finale for eternity.
“The girls love football,” Ms. Quinn said. “This is a great family day and not just a boys’ event.
“These women are great role models for my daughters and for all Meath fans.”
Máire Daly from Navan attended the final with her daughters Orlaith and Eimear, who play Camogie for Dunderry.
“This is a man’s world,” Ms Daly said.
“But women are great and showed today that they can match and even surpass men in football.”
“We’re so proud of Meath,” she added.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/ladies-football/its-a-reminder-girls-can-do-anything-queens-of-the-royal-county-reclaim-their-crown-in-final-for-the-ages-41881314.html ‘It’s a reminder girls can do anything’: Royal County queens reclaim their crown for eternity in final