Cathy Mee keeping her eyes on the prize
By Michael Devlin
While the Gaels of Limerick got going on their biggest party for 45 years following that stunning Liam MacCarthy Cup win a month ago, Cathy Mee and her team-mates had to show considerable levels of restraint and focus to keep their eyes on their own prize.
“We were all up here for the All-Ireland Hurling final, but we had our own All Ireland semi-final a week after so our celebrations after that were very muted,” the Limerick ladies skipper told GAA.ie ahead of the All Ireland Junior Ladies Final clash with Louth this Sunday.
“We went to the match together as a team and enjoyed it, but there was no going out or any of that madness.
“The last couple of weeks, there’s just been a great atmosphere within the county, and I think that’s fed into our campaign. We had a good crowd at our semi-final and there’s been lots of talk. People are keeping their support up since the hurling campaign. It’s a huge motivation for us. Looking at that you can only hope for it for yourself.”
Limerick held off a fancied London side to book their place in Sunday’s final, recovering from a slow start to finish the game strong. Veteran Dympna O’Brien came off the bench to score 1-3 in the last 20 minutes in the 3-15 to 1-14 win, while Rebecca Delee’s two goals were also crucial in sending the Treaty County girls through to a first junior decider since 2010.
“London are a very good side, very strong, and we were expecting that. I think we were underdogs going into all of our games to be honest, so it’s always good to come out with a win. They were really on top of us at the start of the match but the positive for us is that we stayed in it and eventually got more comfortable in the game and drove on from there.”
Wearing the underdog tag doesn’t bother Mee however, and despite already losing to Louth twice this season, the captain is confident her side can produce a performance to get the right result this time.
“There’s no pressure on us I suppose. Yes they’ve beaten us twice in the league and they’re a really good side. “They attack from the back and they work really hard, so we’ll just have to work just as hard. You can’t look back on it too much, we need to focus on ourselves.
“Absolutely we are expecting a huge battle, but we have a load of work done ourselves since then and we’re a bit of a changed side. I’d be confident that if we can perform ourselves that we’d be capable of matching them and hopefully doing well.”
“We have a huge panel now, we’ve been rebuilding this year, so it’s taken a while to get to that stage, but in this championship we’ve had over 30 girls in the panel pushing each other for positions. Having the likes of Dympna on the bench only gives you confidence. You know she’s going to come on and get you a few scores, it’ll be a very off day for her if she doesn’t. To see her coming on gives everyone a boost.”
Sunday’s final is a repeat of the 2010 decider, where Limerick came from six points down at half-time to claim the title over the Wee County. A number of players remain on the panel from that year, and Mee believes their wisdom of the big day will be significant for her team-mates that have come onto the team in recent years.
“I watched 2010 on the television, and hopefully on Sunday it’ll be the same result. There’s five players that were there that are still with us and they have plenty of experience from that day. I suppose we’ll be looking to them to get us going on the day and help us to settle us, for those of us who haven’t been here before and haven’t played in finals in Croke Park.
“I’ve seen that we’re more than capable of being in that intermediate level. We were there from that 2010 final until last year. So those of us who have been there from before, this has been our aim, to go straight back up.
“It’s easier said than done, this year has huge in terms of rebuilding, and we took it one game at a time. Our league campaign was a bit disappointing and we’ve been quite inconsistent during the year, been up and down, but I suppose the last few Championship games has come together for us after a long year of work. I’ll be hoping that continues on Sunday.”