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'It's nice to go back and forth. If you're not having a good day, you can change it up'

Meath dual star Megan Thynne has kicked off yet another busy year.

Megan Thynne Meath's Megan Thynne. Source: Dan Sheirdan/INPHO

AS MEGAN THYNNE and her Meath teammates walked off the Croke Park turf after the All-Ireland intermediate camogie final last September, the mutual feeling was relief.

The clash with Cork finished 1-9 a-piece, meaning a second day out three weeks later. The Rebels, it must be said, let the victory slip as they missed several second-half chances to put away the 2012 All-Ireland junior champions, and to put the game to bed.

The Royals were smiling though.

“In the first game in Croker, I think we never really justified what we can do,” Thynne tells The42, fresh and ready for a new campaign at the Littlewoods Ireland National Camogie Leagues 2018 launch last week.

“Coming off the pitch, we were delighted that we had a second chance. Everyone was saying, ‘Oh, are ye not upset?’ but we were just happy to be going for another three weeks.”

The 21 days came and went, and Meath knew exactly what they had to do on second asking. They started on the back foot but soon found their rhythm, pulling away in a low-scoring affair.

Megan Thynne with Jennifer Barry In action in last year's All-Ireland intermediate final in Croke Park. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

It finished 0-10 to 0-7 with the Jack McGrath Cup heading Boyneside for the winter months. Of course, the mood was euphoric and the atmosphere electric but again, that sense of relief crept in as the final whistle sounded.

“We pulled ahead but anything could have happened,” Thynne explains. “They could have got a goal to get back into it.

“At the end, it was unbelievable. You can’t even think or describe it in words. Everyone was just very emotional to think that we finally did it.

“In the county, we were probably expected as a team to have won it a few years earlier, having already won the junior. It was a five-year gap altogether between junior and intermediate. It was definitely a special moment.

“Winning against Cork, it’s something else,” she smiles as she recalls that glorious day at the Gaelic Grounds.

And they fairly celebrated that one? ”Oh yeah, definitely. The week after was a bit of a write off!”

Meath celebrate lifting the trophy Meath were crowned All-Ireland intermediate champions after a replay. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

1 October is but a memory for the 18-year-old midfielder, and after a few short weeks of the off-season she’s ready for more. Thynne helped steer her club Kilmessan to All-Ireland junior glory on the first Sunday in December but by that stage, her county teammates were already back to the grind.

She rejoined them shortly after and lined out in their opening Division 1 League encounter against Waterford last weekend. A loss ensued, but in the days running up to their 2018 opener, Thynne was relishing the challenge.

“Playing Division 1 League and senior championship for Meath camogie, it’s a huge step for the county,” she continued, adding that it was important for younger girls to see so they could strive towards that level.

“We’re just back to where we were (starting another year). But that’s what you want, That’s what you have to do and where you want to be.

“Getting to play against everyone’s first teams — they’re the best players in their counties — it’s only going to make us better as a team.

“You want to push yourself as an individual player as well to be the best that you can be and that’s the only way that’s going to help it, to be playing faster and more physical games than we have been.

Megan Thynne On the ball with her club Kilmessan. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We got to play Division 1 League last year and I think that definitely pushed us on to win the intermediate, in all fairness. They were the toughest games we were going to have all year, the League, and they definitely stood to us by the end of it.”

As well as the camogie, Thynne also donned the green and gold jersey for the footballers in 2017 as they reached the All-Ireland intermediate semi-final but bowed out to eventual champions Tipperary.

She’s committing to both codes at inter-county level again this year, her honest enthusiasm shining through as she confirms her plans. Another challenge she’s relishing.

“Last year, at the start of the year, Meath football was nowhere where it was meant to be and by the end of the year, we completely changed that concept within the county.

“We definitely want to push on. There’s probably an intermediate football title there that could be won.”

The life of a dual player was a topic discussed at length at the launch which was hosted by the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer was another of the group of 10 players from across the country who plays both codes at inter-county level.

meg thynne In action for the Meath senior footballers.

And both players shared similar points and insights on balancing both, and the commitment involved.

“It is tough but I enjoy playing and I love playing,” Thynne says.

“I don’t know what else I’d be doing with my evenings anyway! I’m happy to be out training. It’s only going to be better for me. I’m so used to it. I’ve played my whole life.

“Since I was a child I’ve played both. All my underage years, I’ve played both camogie and football for the county. At the start, people would have been like, ‘Oh, you might have to pick when you’re older’ but if other counties can do it, so can we.

“I’m happy I’m doing both. It’s nice to go back and forth. If you’re not having a good day, you know yourself, you can change it up and focus on something else.”

“I think it’s definitely stood to us. I’ll just keep it going as long as I can anyway.”

And like O’Dwyer, she feels that both codes benefit each other — football makes her fitter for camogie and camogie makes her stronger for football.

“I definitely think those things stand to you. Even eating right and just being in a routine. The small things even; concentration, skills, they can go back and forth.”

She adds: “Management are very good. They allow me to go between the two.

Megan Thynne with Catherine Neary and Deirdre Ashe Thynne won a Soaring Star award at the Camogie All-Stars. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be flat out with a game every weekend but sure these things happen, you have to get on with it. If you want to do it, you have to deal with it.”

As the old saying goes, Thynne is most definitely a wise head on young shoulders. She’s opted to study Childcare at third level, and does so online so she could keep on her job at a nearby creche.

She gets the studies done whenever she can, often in the morning before work, and ‘it’s working out grand,’ she assures me.

“It’s right to have a routine and be busy,” she nods.

With the camogie league pretty much in full swing again, and the football equivalent kicking off on 28 January, it’s hard not to be busy.

John Davis is at the helm of the camogie side once again — the 69-year-old has steered the Royals all the way from Junior B to senior level championship, and from Division 4 to Division 1 of the National League — and their next task comes against Limerick later today

The team has changed ever so slightly for the early exchanges of 2018, they’re waiting on injured players to return while younger talents have made the jump to senior level.

Launch Of The 2018 Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Players pictured at the launch of the Littlewoods Ireland National Camogie Leagues 2018. Source: Dan Sheirdan/INPHO

“It’s a bit changed but we were at this stage last year that we’re in,” she concedes. “Hopefully everything will click and it will come together.”

Placed in Group 2 with reigning league champions Kilkenny and today’s opponents Limerick, and joined by the resurgent Dublin and Waterford, Meath find themselves in a tough pool.

That doesn’t faze Thynne though. She’s only raring to go, and delighted to be competing against the best of the best week in, week out.

“The top teams obviously — it’s going to be tough,”she concludes.

“As long as we just give it our best shot, I think everyone has enough heart and determination to do that. Anything can happen on a day. If we give it a good go and get everyone to the right fitness and skill level (we’ll succeed).

“Obviously (there’s) smaller teams compared to the Corks and Kilkennys. But it’s fairly even between us all.

“I think anything could happen, or come out of it. As long as we stay up there, we’ll be happy.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

‘I wouldn’t be able to pick, I love the two of them. It’s crazy to think I didn’t like sport’

‘As a 34-year-old woman playing for my 17th year, opening up for a men’s game doesn’t appeal to me’

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Emma Duffy

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