Playing for Kilkenny in any code comes with its own pressure. All-Ireland's aren't a pipe dream for fans, they are to be expected, and who could blame them for having such levels of expectancy. Such pressure doesn't seem to bother Meighan Farrell. The 3-time All-Star is a born leader and helped deliver the county's 14th All-Ireland during 2020, narrowly missing out on the retention of the title in 2021 also. A new year dawns, however, and the Thomastown native has a return of the O'Duffy Cup in her sights in 2022. This week we went ClubSpotting with Meighan Farrell.
1. What are your first memories of your club Thomastown?
I remember my mother used to train teams the whole way up so we would be down in Grennan (Thomastown pitch) just pucking around more than we were at home.
2. Who were your sporting idols growing up?
Mainly growing up I would just be watching my brother and sisters play and would want to be like them. I also loved the way Tommy Walsh played the game, he would score points from wing-back. I played wing-back underage and remember I always wanted to get up for a point in a match, I’m still trying with that.
3. What has been the proudest moment of your playing career?
Obviously, there are the big ones like winning our first county final with Thomastown. We had been losing for years and to finally win one was very special. Also with Kilkenny, the 2016 All Ireland after a long wait was amazing. But there was a Leinster final we played with Thomastown up in Parnell Park against St. Vincents on a wet day in November. We got a goal in the last minute to win the match. Nobody could believe it. Supporters had travelled up in cars and buses and were cheering and were out on the pitch afterwards giving everyone hugs. Just seeing the pride and the smiles on the faces of the Thomastown people that day was a proud moment for me. I remember looking back on a picture that was taken afterwards of myself and my three sisters all playing that day, I love that picture.
4. Toughest opponent you have faced?
Myself and Miriam Walsh always have a good battle when we get put on each other in training although we would be best friends off of the pitch, that doesn’t come into question between the white lines. It was the same with Thomastown, my dad was our manager at the time and thought it would be a good idea to put myself and Shelly (sister) marking each other. Anyone who knows shelly knows she has a fair bit of pace about her and is a prominent goal scorer. I said to myself if she gets the ball I may take her down because I know she will run the whole way into the goal and I won’t be able to catch her. She got the ball anyway and went to take off so I clipped her ankles and she hit the ground hard. I remember everyone watching in shock but the blame more than likely got put back on my father because it was his fault anyway for putting us on each other.
5. Best player you have played with?
The famous Kate McDonald. Everyone needs one on their team and I’m just lucky we are from the same club. She played with Kilkenny for years from underage up to Senior and was a top-class player but her dedication and attitude is just second to none. On all of the teams I’ve ever been involved with I’ve met many people over the years with great attitudes and dedication but to me no one comes close to what she has, well maybe my sister Anna actually. Their passion for the game and their team is almost tangible and I admire them for that.
6. Any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
I’m not really too superstitious when it comes to sports, to be honest. I still think if you walk under a ladder or break a mirror you’ll have bad luck but I try not to overthink it in terms of sports.
7. What are your hopes and ambitions for 2022?
It’s quite a tough one at the moment when you’re trying to look to the future because of the current global pandemic we find ourselves in. I have wanted to go to Australia now for about two years so it’s hard to organise your life when you don’t know when the borders will open back up. My sister is out there for the last 3 years and hasn’t been home yet due to Covid so it would be great to see her and maybe play a bit of camogie on the same team again.
I’d love to see Kilkenny lift the O’ Duffy and Thomastown to get to Croke Park and win a club All Ireland, that would be the dream.
Again, no one knows what’s around the corner anymore and we could be hit with another wave and a lockdown. Last year really showed me what was most important. So although I would love the above, mainly I just hope for good health and happiness for everyone.
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