One last-gasp hero watching another, and chasing back-to-back All-Irelands with Meath


THERE’S A FEW acquainted faces within the high right-hand nook of an unbelievable {photograph} doing the rounds after Sunday’s All-Eire soccer semi-final between Kerry and Dublin.

The Croke Park crowd holds its breath as Sean O’Shea stands over a decisive, long-range 76th-minute free-kick. The image, captured brilliantly by James Crombie of Inpho, paints a thousand phrases:

Supply: James Crombie/INPHO

Emma Duggan watched on on alongside her Meath team-mates Vikki Wall, Aoibhin Cleary and Katie Newe, the All-Star attacker having discovered herself in an identical place lower than 24 hours earlier.

It was she who kicked the last-gasp winner which ship the reigning champions previous Galway and into this weekend’s All-Eire semi-final towards Donegal.

“To be sincere I wasn’t that assured,” the 20-year-old laughs now. “It was looping within the air for a very long time, I didn’t know the place it was going to go however I suppose when the white flag was raised it was most likely reduction greater than something to place it over the bar.

“I didn’t realise that there was so little left on the clock. I believed if it went broad, we’d get one other alternative however it truly didn’t occur like that. I used to be simply in the appropriate place on the proper time, and I believe anybody would have taken on the shot in the event that they have been in that place. I threw a boot at it and I used to be actually relieved that it went over ultimately.”

O’Shea absolutely felt related feelings when his effort sealed Kerry’s development to the All-Eire last, avoiding extra-time and ending years of Dublin harm.

And Duggan was more than pleased to play the spectator position for that one. “It was unbelievable to be going into Croke Park and really experiencing the entire ambiance. It’s a change from being on the pitch, particularly a Dublin and Kerry match — you possibly can’t beat it! Seanie O’Shea’s rating was completely unbelievable, so it was very nice being there.”

Being noticed in that picture actually isn’t the primary time Duggan has been picked out of a crowd in current months. Meath’s monumental All-Eire win final September was undoubtedly life-changing, the day-to-day existence now very completely different at instances.

“There are clearly facets which have modified an enormous quantity,” she nods. “The large one, I suppose, is simply strolling down the road and randomers noticing you, which for me I used to be not likely anticipating that.

“It’s large, particularly whenever you see the children coming as much as you of their jerseys asking you signal them and get an image and stuff like that, you’re type of considering, ‘Why are they asking me, why are they searching for my autograph?’

“There are different facets that I need to keep constant in my life. I wouldn’t be a large fan of getting on the market within the media, I desire to maintain my head down so there are facets the place you need to keep targeted on the job in hand. There are undoubtedly issues that you simply get pleasure from and the alternatives that you’ve got been given. We’d by no means have gotten that this time final yr or a few years in the past as properly so it’s large and also you do should shake some water right here, you already know they gained’t be right here eternally too.”

Emma Duggan is pictured in entrance of her ‘County Pleasure’ billboard at her native Lidl retailer in Clonee.

Duggan is properly conscious, too, that these Glory Days aren’t everlasting both.

The women soccer panorama is altering, the Dublin-Cork dominance properly and actually damaged and the race extra aggressive than ever earlier than. “It’s probably the most open championship I’ve ever seen, not even performed in, however watched as properly,” as she notes at one level.

The AFLW can also be making its impression felt, with 21 of the nation’s greatest gamers signed on for the brand new season. Wall and Orlagh Lally are two of such from the Banks of the Boyne, with the sensation in some quarters that this could be a case of final likelihood saloon for this present crop.

Duggan disagrees. “Ah no, I don’t suppose so. I don’t suppose that’s the way in which we’ve been it in any respect.

“The women have labored arduous over the previous few years to get that chance. I’m residing in hope that they’ll actually be again for one more season, if it really works out that means. I wouldn’t say it’s our final alternative to go for it however it might be a particular approach to ship them off this yr anyway. So hopefully we get the win on the weekend and push on for the ultimate.

“I believe clearly there are going to be an increasing number of gamers going over. It doesn’t actually work in each favours any extra, in that you could’t play each actually. However look, it’s nice that gamers are getting the chance however it will likely be all the way down to gamers when it comes to whether or not you need to give that skilled way of life a go or stick together with your roots and stick with soccer. That’s not our concern.

“We do have actually, actually good younger gamers there to maintain us constructing and an excellent underage system arising as properly so I wouldn’t fear an excessive amount of about that.”

Duggan is unquestionably wanted Down Below herself, however dismissed any rapid attraction or curiosity in an interview with The42 in Might.

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Duggan and Wall with Katie Newe and Máire O’Shaughnessy after final yr’s All-Eire win.

Supply: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

“Who is aware of what the longer term holds however for now, I’m undoubtedly staying put,” she mentioned on the time. And she or he echoed these sentiments yesterday.

“Look, I wouldn’t say no. Clearly proper now it’s not one thing I’ve been considering of so I can’t give a straight reply now, however you by no means know. Sooner or later it could be one thing that can work out that means however for now I’m absolutely targeted on soccer for the following few years. There’s a lot that I need to obtain with Meath and with my membership Dunboyne as properly in order that’s the place my focus lies for now.”

Precisely the place she needs it.

Duggan might be within the thick of it as a participant at HQ this weekend. “A large take a look at” lies forward towards a Donegal aspect “who can have their tails up” after knocking Dublin out, whereas Kerry and Mayo face off within the different last-four battle.

A lot of the discuss by way of the build-up might be round Eamonn Murray’s aspect persevering with their bid for back-to-back Brendan Martin Cups, however Duggan and co. will block that out.

“It’s large, we haven’t actually talked concerning the back-to-back factor, it’s only one recreation at a time, one season at a time,” Duggan concludes, smart past her years.

“I suppose we did need to exit this season to show final yr wasn’t, as some folks have been saying, a one-hit surprise.

“We needed to be a constant crew just like the likes of Dublin and Cork who’ve been there or thereabouts for therefore a few years. I noticed one thing the opposite day that that is the primary time neither crew has been in a semi-final in 20 or 30 years, I believe. They’ve proven that dominance and that’s one thing we need to present as properly, clearly getting again to an All-Eire last, successful one other All-Eire would undoubtedly solidify that as properly.”


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