Shauna Ennis is aware of the chatter out there. After two years dominating the highways and byways of the women’s game, there are some who reckon Meath’s incredible journey is now starting to run out of road.
Following six National League games, the reigning Division One champions have collected just three points – courtesy of a win over Donegal and a draw with Galway. They lost their other four matches, including last week’s clash against Waterford, during which Meath had led by six points at the break.
Kerry and Galway will contest the league final this year, and ahead of the last round of games Meath are sitting sixth in a table of eight. With a new management team trying to bed in and key players missing for various reasons, perhaps the league was always going to be a struggle this term. Either way, those inside the Meath dressingroom are not entertaining the naysayers.
“Look, I don’t care what people are saying, it doesn’t bother me,” said Ennis, the Meath captain, who was speaking in her role as an ambassador for John West Féile 2023. “I’d actually prefer them to be saying that it’s over, to be honest, we love a good underdog tag.
“Some people are probably of that opinion, even at the start of the league, after the first few games, there was a lot of stuff said about us not being up to scratch and stuff like that. But we can turn that on its head now. We can use that definitely for motivation going forward.”
Significantly, Vikki Wall came off the bench last weekend against Waterford to make her comeback after returning from Australia, and the former Footballer of the Year will be with the Meath squad now for the rest of their season.
“We knew she would be back with us, Vikki is back now, which is obviously a really good boost,” added Ennis.
“It will obviously, probably, take her a couple of weeks to get back into the football side of things, but she was playing a little bit over there with, she played sevens with Melbourne, so she did play a little bit of football over in Australia, just to keep her hand in.”
Davy Nelson has succeeded Eamonn Murray as Meath manager this season, but Ennis does not believe they will be tearing apart the framework that led the team to back-to-back All-Ireland senior titles.
“I can’t imagine we are going to reinvent the wheel, I can’t imagine our style changing dramatically,” says Ennis. “Of course there will be little adjustments here and there, but we have been playing that way for so long now that I can’t imagine we are going to do a 180 or anything like that.
“I don’t think there would have been many people who would have wanted that job, which sounds funny to say because being All Ireland champions you might think it would be a great job.
“But it is a very tough job to step in for. We really admire him for taking that on, he knew it was going to be a really hard challenge. During the league, we’ve been still finding our feet and a lot of the other teams are going really well.”