By Daragh Ó Conchúir, at Croke Park
Meath goal scorer, Ciara Foley tried to make sense of the mix of emotions that came with drawing the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland intermediate camogie final, the Royals scoring 2-6 compared to Derry’s 1-9.
“It is weird,” said Foley. “We might feel we left it behind us, Derry might feel they left it behind them but look, isn’t it the fairest decision?”
It was a remarkably calm summation, when in truth, it was Meath had all the momentum.
But then, Derry led by seven points at half-time, 1-8 to 1-1, responding well to Foley’s sixth minute goal to keep the Royals scoreless for the rest of the half and while striking for 1-6 themselves, the goal coming from Mairéad McNicholl.
It was still seven early in the second half after an exchange of points but Lauren McKenna’s score, in response to Abbye Donnelly’s, was the only one of that latter period for PJ O’Mullan’s crew.
“We’re probably glad to get out of it with a draw,” said O’Mullan. “We were in complete control at half-time. We said, if we could come out and get three, four more scores it was going to give them a mountain to climb.
“We didn’t manage to do that, and the end result is that we were probably lucky enough to escape with a draw.
“I just thought we couldn’t get decisions but our performance in the second half wouldn’t have been good enough to win an All-Ireland. It’s something we’ve got to look at. We got one point in the second half.”
Aoife Minogue had a penalty saved in that latter period too but sub Aoibhinn Lally’s 45th minute goal gave Meath real belief. Points from Foley and a brace of converted frees by Minogue drew them level.
Minogue nearly snatched it from a difficult free in the fifth minute of injury time but the sliotar drifted marginally wide.
“Derry are a great side,” Foley stated. “We knew it was going to be a tough match. We knew we weren’t going to walk it. I’m really proud of the girls in the second half. We kicked back. Seven points down at half-time, we came in here and we said, ‘Look, we haven’t played yet. We haven’t done our best. We haven’t left our heart here.’
“I suppose the pride in the jersey in the second half, we showed it, we really showed it and next week, hopefully the full 60 minutes we’ll show it again.”
She said that manager Brendan Skehan continued to encourage his players during the interval. They didn’t need to be told what was going wrong.
“We knew ourselves. We knew we weren’t playing yet. I felt with the amount of people there, the atmosphere and support, we needed to use it and we did in the second half. The shouting for us was great. My heart was in my mouth but if you can use that noise it’s brilliant. And it’s great to see for camogie, such an atmosphere.
“Reset and go again. I hope I have some input in helping the girls but being part of that group of girls is easy. We’ve a great panel, great subs, people to come on. You play your best, you give 110 per cent and if the next girl gives 110 per cent, it’s all about getting past the post.”