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Next stop Australia for Vikki Wall after All-Ireland win and whirlwind week

The Meath star sets off for North Melbourne on Friday.

Vikki Wall produced a big All-Ireland final performance on Sunday.
Vikki Wall produced a big All-Ireland final performance on Sunday.
Image: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

FIVE DAYS AFTER helping Meath to more All-Ireland glory, Vikki Wall heads off to Australia on her next venture.

The 2021 Footballer of the Year signed off with a third Celtic cross in three years, playing a key role as the Royals powered past Kerry to seal back-to-back senior success.

Now, Wall’s focus can flip freely to AFLW, the long-awaited next chapter officially opening on Friday.

“It’s probably been the best thing to have beforehand, in a sense,” she admitted moments after getting her hands on the Brendan Martin Cup once more.

“I have been working with North Melbourne the last while and doing a few bits and pieces. Both have been a nice distraction for each other.

“It’s nice to flick on a few of the Aussie Rules games to take your mind off GAA, and vice versa, if I’m getting a bit too caught up in that, I’d put on some of the old Meath games to switch off. It’s been nice, I’m flying out next Friday so I’ve a bit of celebrating to do, a bit of time to spend with the team so I’ll make the most of it for sure.”

“Five days,” she laughs. “They’ll be busy! I have to say goodbye to a few people and fit people in, do a few last bits. I had my bags packed before the game just so I could take that away. Hopefully a bit of craic, and then say goodbye to people.”

While Wall vows to return to the green and gold in the future, she brought the curtain down on her involvement in style for now, hitting 0-3 in a colossal performance despite suffering a dead leg early on. (All good on that front, she assures.)

The Dunboyne forward, 24, saw yellow in the closing minutes of the game, sent to the sin-bin for allegedly persistent fouling, charging the last offence. She laughed afterwards that she was “not specifically” told what it was for by referee Maggie Farrelly, “But sure look, it was the last five, so I can’t complain too much”.

kerry-v-meath-tg4-all-ireland-ladies-football-senior-championship-final Wall celebrating with team-mates afterwards. Source: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

Wall has been vocal in the past about the need for more physicality in ladies football, and she echoed those frustrations in the bowels of the Hogan Stand on Sunday, when comparing and contrasting with AFLW.

“Yeah, it’s a bit more simple in terms of what you can and can’t do. I think there’s a lot of ambiguity around what a tackle is in ladies football at the moment, and this idea of non-contact, which is just, I think, nonsense at this stage.

“Look, I’m looking forward to it… when you’re expecting a bit more physicality, you can probably react to it a bit better, and you’re not trying to win a free, as such, over there.”

Wall also spoke about staying away from much of the build-up to the final — “The first thing people want to talk about is football. I probably avoided Dunboyne for the last week or two, to stay out of those conversations” — and the “four or five hours” she spent at the pitch on different days last week, practicing free-kicks from the exact angles she converted two from on Sunday, adding with a grin:

“They were from nearly the same spot so I was like, ‘If I put the first one over, I definitely have to put the second one over! Or I’ll be getting in trouble with my Dad after the game!’”

There was also a word for her sister Sarah, who made her first All-Ireland senior final appearance after suffering a devastating knee injury in the 2020 intermediate addition.

“From a personal perspective, I would have seen the amount of effort she’s put in to get back. After two cruciates, it’s not an easy feat by any means. Even this year, she got her game against Westmeath and she’s been really pushing.

“She was starting in 2020 in the All-Ireland final and she struggled to get her place for most of this year, it just shows the calibre of people that are there. For her to be on the pitch at the last whistle, it’s just unbelievable. It’s almost like a just reward for the effort that she’s put in.”

the-meath-team-celebrate-with-the-brendan-martin-cup-as-all-ireland-champions Meath celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Reflecting on the back-to-back All-Ireland senior wins and the notion of dispelling any doubts on being one-hit wonders, Wall added:

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“I don’t know if you can compare them, to be honest. We’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a few of these finals the last few years, every single one of them is equally as special, to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of winning an All-Ireland.

“I don’t know if it was a case of trying to prove people wrong this year. I don’t think we felt that we had something to prove to other people this year, rather to prove to ourselves, that Paul [Garrigan], Eamonn [Murray] and all the lads that came in since 2017, (everything) was almost worth it, in a sense.

“We knew what we had there. Even when times were bad in Meath, we knew we did have a good crop of people there, it was just buying into a system which Paul and Eamonn and Shane [Wall] and Mark [Brennan] — the list goes on — have allowed us to do that.”

Now, it’s on to Oz, Wall backed to make a big impact on season seven of the AFLW as one of 21 Irish players confirmed. Meath team-mate Orlagh Lally is another, while she’ll join Cork youngster Erika O’Shea at North Melbourne.

“They have a pre-season game on the 3rd August and another on the 13th, against Adelaide Crows, which I’m hoping to tog out for,” she enthuses. “We’ll see how I get on.

“I would have been in college with a few girls that are over there now, anyone that’s over there has reached out. They’re all so approachable, saying to meet up, tips and tricks of what to bring and what not to pack, something as simple as that.

“They’ve all been great so far. I’m really looking forward to it now.”

Originally published at 07.00

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Emma Duffy

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