Proud families hail their Royal circle of sisters

The victorious All-Ireland Meath Women’s Senior Football Team have been flat out visiting every corner of the county since their historic win over the Dubs in Croke Park last Sunday week, and good luck to them all. ANN CASEY and SALLY HARDING decided to catch up with their ecstatic families to get their thoughts on a never-to-be-forgotten achievement and the bonds that unite this special group

‘They are all like sisters, there is great camaraderie’

Tom Wall - Vikki's Dad

Vikki Wall’s dad Tom has spoken of the widespread pride the Meath Ladies has instilled in the county and the way they have paved the way for women in sport. He said:

“I think it has been a rollercoaster, firstly the sense of pride from the team on what they have achieved then for the girls themselves on what they have achieved on the journey.

“As a parent I would have been at that famous Cork game back in 2016 when Victoria and the team got beaten by 40 points. There was a group of parents who have been following the team since that team, a lot of the time there might have been three or four supporters on the sideline. To see it all coming together this week for all of the girls who have played underage and achieved that is fantastic.

Vikki Wall with her proud parents Tom and Caroline and her sister Sarah.Photo: John Quirke / Photo by John Quirke

“For the visibility alone that it has created for ladies football it has been phenomenal; I think the match got 600,000 views at different stages.”

Tom describes what it was like watching his daughter who plays for Dunboyne secure victory in Croke Park last Sunday.

“We were there in the Hogan Stand, it was very emotional at the end, I was trying to get down to congratulate Victoria, we didn’t know she won Player of the Match at that stage. I was responding to good luck messages on LinkedIn and I said that I would need the defibrillator ready at the end for the last few minutes!

“There’s mixed feelings in it, first you have pride in the girls, then you want to make sure they don’t get injured.”

Meath players celebrating with the Brendan Martin All-Ireland Ladies SFC Cup.Photo: John Quirke / Photo by John Quirke

Vikki’s younger sister and fellow Meath senior ladies’ player sister was hindered from a previous injury on Sunday and was forced to watch from the sidelines but didn’t make the triumphant win any less special according to proud dad Tom who along with wife Caroline ferried the two girls to training over the years. He added:

“They will probably have withdrawal symptoms after all this stops because they are all like sisters, they help one another, there is great camaraderie, the team is like a club team, they have managed to move that over to the actual county environment and tomorrow week they will be playing matches against each other.

“At club level you are competing with one another and they learned that girls they had been playing against the previous week, they were depending on them at county level so there are great life skills on how to work with people, they develop so much.

“The first in anything is always amazing. This will stick in people’s memories.

For seventeen years it was Cork or Dublin, 2004 it was Galway then you had Meath coming in and no one gave them a chance, that’s the big thing, the team dynamic and the belief that they had and that’s what I think they will take with them, just because someone says you can’t do something, you can, if you work hard enough you’ll get it.”

‘I think it really hasn’t hit them yet that they’re a history making team’

Nora Lally - Orlagh's Mum

“Everybody is buzzing, it is unbelievable,” said a delighted Nora Lally, mother of midfielder, Orlagh.

“She is getting cards and congratulations in the post. She went into a shop in Athboy to get a scone and someone bought her a bag of them. Everybody is delighted,” says a proud Nora.

Orlagh was one of the younger members of the team, having captained the 2019 minor team that won the Leinster Championship.

Orlagh lally and family.

The actual match was a nerve-wracking time for her family

“Parts of the match, I cannot even remember, I was so anxious,” says Nora.

The Lally family were out in force for the match.

Along with mum Nora and dad, John, were her sisters, Aoife and Laura, her niece, Mia, her boyfriend, Sean Keogh and brother-in-law Stephen Palfi.

Her godfather, Pat Jennings, aunt Annette and cousin, David were also there cheering on the team.

Orlagh plays for Clann na nGael and the people of Athboy and surrounding areas were particularly proud of her.

Causey Farm had signs wishing her luck along with large wooden cows painted green and gold at the crossroad and there were signs all over Athboy wishing her luck.

Rathmore National School, which Orlagh attended was decked out with flags.

“On the morning of the match, the children were out waving flags and signs as she passed through Rathmore.”

Nora says that she knew from day one that this Meath team could do it.

“They had really improved this year. “They are a great group of girls and they are one big family. The management and the parents are great.

“We went to Dunboyne and the connection they all have is great. They are a lovely group of girls.”

Nora recalls that Orlagh was a great swimmer when she was younger but gave it up to concentrate on football when she was around 12 and played football for Meath from a young age, captaining the Leinster Minor Champions in 2019.

“They are all on a high at the moment, but they are exhausted and I think it really hasn't hit them yet that they are a history making team,” she says.

Orlagh is living at home at the moment and will be commuting to DCU where she is studying nursing and she hopes to play football for the college. She was back playing camogie on Sunday.

Football and camogie are her life,” says a delighted Nora.

‘Cloud nine doesn’t even come close’

John Lynch - Mary Kate Lynch's Dad

Mary Kate Lynch’s father John has described his daughter’s victory with her team mates as “a fairy-tale” but says the only magic components were the dedication and passion the ladies displayed over the last turbulent number of years.

“We can’t believe it, to have a daughter playing on the team, cloud nine doesn’t even come close.

“To win the intermediate and then to go on to win the Div 2 Senior League against Kerry and a couple of months’ layer they win the All Ireland, it’s a fairytale I think.

“We were there in Croke Park on the Hogan Stand and it was just unbelievable feeling, even if they didn’t win we were so proud of them to be there playing in an All-Ireland final. It was on the of best the days of my life.

Mary Kate had a few setbacks on her journey but never gave up according to proud dad John who said:

“She started when she was only a tot maybe about four years of age playing for Summerhill.

“She went for trials for Meath under 14s and didn’t even get a look in but she said that didn’t bother her and she went back the following year for under 16s and she didn’t actually make it either then we got a call from Peter Byrne and he brought her out to the development squad and that's where it all it took off.”

John says the Meath ladies' team is “like a family” and the support they give to one another allows them to excel as individuals.

“Football comes first before anything, it’s her passion, she’s so lucky to come to a team that welcomed her in.

“They are all so close, they are like one big family, there isn’t one selfish player on the team, there is no one looking for glory. They have had their ups and downs, had their low times but they are up a height of times now and I think they will stay up there for a while!”