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The Meath-Dublin rivalry, life-changing All-Ireland and being in the limelight

Life has ’100 percent changed’ for Vikki Wall and Meath over the past few months.

Pictured is Meath’s Vikki Wall, who today has been named the Gaelic Writers’ Association Ladies Football Personality of the Year.
Pictured is Meath’s Vikki Wall, who today has been named the Gaelic Writers’ Association Ladies Football Personality of the Year.
Image: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

VIKKI WALL IS undoubtedly one of the biggest names and most recognisable faces in ladies football.

The 2021 Player of the Year has been central through the unprecedented heights Meath have hit of late; one of the stars of the show in their historic All-Ireland success last September, and again on their run to a maiden Division 1 league crown last month.

The story of their magical rise is well documented by now, but they’re hell-bent on making it a book rather than a single chapter.

Wall and Co. got their 2022 championship bid off to an excellent start last weekend, edging out rivals Dublin by the minimum in Parnell Park.

It was the second time the sides met since last year’s All-Ireland final, when Meath spectacularly ended the Drive for Five, with the Royals also enjoying the upperhand in their league round-robin meeting at Páirc Tailteann.

The focus now turns to their next Leinster championship clash against Westmeath in Navan tomorrow [throw-in 3pm], where a win should see them reach the provincial final.

And set up another showdown against the Dubs.

Nothing is nailed on just yet, as Wall is quick to point out, but the Dunboyne star is certain there’s plenty more to come down the line in the ever-growing rivalry between the neighbouring counties.

“I don’t think it will be the last time we have played Dublin,” she says, reflecting on last weekend’s 1-8 to 0-10 victory. “I think we will definitely be meeting them again.

“Once, if not more than that. Every time we play them there is only a kick of a ball between us, so for both of us and I think spectators as well, they are the type of games you want to be involved in.

“You want to be constantly learning and pushing yourselves so yeah, it’s great.

“We are learning every game we play. We hadn’t played them competitively since 2016, up until the All-Ireland final last year. Now we’ve played them three times in the space of a few months, it’s great for both teams really.”

“I think that narrative has always been there in football, whether it’s men or women,” she continues. “I think now we kind of have that going in the ladies’ side of things and it absolutely does help to push that narrative and that kind of competition, the rivalry that people know regardless of the gender of the sport.”

A big crowd turned out to Donnycarney to see the heavyweights do battle, and Wall is keen to see more of that. She hopes attendances can be spread out more consistently through the year, rather than just on the big days.

vikki-wall Wall facing Dublin in last year's All-Ireland final. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

A tightly-marked woman, she’s well used to those by now.

Life “has 100 percent changed” over the past year for herself and her team-mates.

“It has kind of been a bit of a roller coaster since the All-Ireland final,” Wall, who’s expected to make the move to AFLW soon, notes. “I think people were kind of taken by the story and obviously have responded to it. It’s gotten a lot of media attention at this stage.

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“I think even for Meath ladies and the progress of our underage and just even the levels of participation within Meath have kind of skyrocketed almost and just even seeing the crowds we are getting at league games this year…

“They are kind of the bits that stand out more so than the trophies or anything like that.

“Even the girls in our own club in Dunboyne, the kind of backing that we have as a team now has probably been the most rewarding part.”

Being in the limelight is “definitely a bit bizarre,” she adds.

“I wouldn’t say I’m used to it now at all. It still kind of comes as a bit of a shock. Again, I think it comes back to the hype of those games (last year). Even after the game there on Saturday at Parnell Park people were queueing up to get pictures of everyone on the team.

“People are kind of idolising the entire team. It’s great, especially for young girls to have those kind of role models and it’s so close to home for a lot of them in Meath as well.”

Meath’s Vikki Wall was today named the Gaelic Writers’ Association Ladies Football Personality of the Year. The Gaelic Writers’ Association Awards, which take place tonight in Dublin, are this year supported by Wilson Hartnell, who are celebrating their 50th year in business.

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Emma Duffy

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