Being written off suits Meath, insists Royals captain Shauna Ennis

John West Féile ambassador Shauna Ennis. Photo by: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Donnchadh Boyle

If Meath and their dramatic rise have been the story of the ladies football championship for the last few years, then they’ll understand if their indifferent league form has raised a few eyebrows.

The Royals won this competition last year on their way to a second successive All-Ireland success.

But just one win and a draw from six league outings after a close season that has seen wholesale change on both sides of the white line has prompted questions as to whether the fairytale is over. And that suits Shauna Ennis just fine.

“Look, I don’t care what people are saying,” said the Meath defender as John West announced the extension of their Féile sponsorship until 2025.

“It doesn’t bother me. I’d actually prefer them to be saying that it’s over to be honest. We love a good underdog tag. Yeah, 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.”

Tumult in the Meath camp was to be expected. Manager Eamonn Murray moved on and was replaced by Davy Nelson and his backroom team. Vikki Wall only rejoined the panel last week after her stint in the AFLW, while Orlagh Lally, who was also signed by an Australian club, has yet to rejoin. Aoibheann Leahy and Kelsey Nesbitt are out with knee injuries and Emma Troy is travelling. Emma Duggan has battled injury this year, as has Ennis.

“The likes of Bridgetta Lynch retired as well,” Ennis says, expanding on the theme. “She was a big loss for us, would always have been featuring for us.

“But the team was virtually unchanged there for about three years and it was extremely hard to break onto it.

“So there’s been young girls who are sort of 21, 22 who have been there for a few years and haven’t seen any game-time. They will be chomping at the bit now to get in and take their chance.”

And while the coaching staff has changed, Ennis doesn’t foresee a significant tactical shift for her side.

“I can’t imagine we are going to reinvent the wheel, I can’t imagine our style changing dramatically. 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.

“There will be adjustments, there are going to have to be because teams have been studying and analysing the way we play, so we can’t go back again with the same thing, we’ll have to make some adjustments.”