"I'm nearly the nan now at this stage!" - Aishling Moloney 4 months ago

"I'm nearly the nan now at this stage!" - Aishling Moloney

"For me, personally, and for a few other girls, we're kind of fed up with Tipperary being intermediate and that mind-set of accepting second best."

2018 saw Aishling Moloney and the Tipperary Ladies crowned the Lidl Division 2 champions. 2019 had Tipp mixing it in Division 1, staying up and winning the All-Ireland Intermediate title.

2020 is all about kicking on again and there is no better place to start than taking on reigning All-Ireland senior champions Dublin, on January 26.

"Something that drives us forward," Moloney tells SportsJOE, "is to get up to senior and make a name for ourselves. If you start winning and playing well, you're going to earn respect within the county.

"If you look at our hurlers, they probably got abused last year for playing poorly. They came back, won an All-Ireland and everybody loves them. It's gas the way it goes. But we have to put on a spectacle, perform and start winning games to be respected across the country, and within Tipperary."

The Premier County have lost Niamh Lonergan to retirement, leaving 27-year-old Samantha Lambert as the county's most experienced player. "Everyone else in the team is under 23 and I'm considered one of the older ones. I'm nearly the nan now at this stage! Sam's ruining it for us and bringing up the age difference so we want to get rid of her!

"No, she's great and she's not going anywhere. But we've a lot of young girls in again this year and it's probably just a work in progress."

With Lonergan retired and two of the county's best players playing Australian Football League (Aussie Rules), the 21-year-old Moloney rebuffed offers from 'a few' Australian teams to come out for the 2020 season. Every county is losing footballers, says Moloney, and it is just a fact of life.

"Yeah, we've lost two. Aisling McCarthy and Orla O'Dwyer. They're planning on being back for championship so... hopefully.

"A few teams have lost a few. Other teams are in the same boat as us so that's something we can't reflect on too much."

McCarthy, the 2017 Intermediate Footballer of the Year, is over with Western Bulldogs while O'Dwyer is with Brisbane Lions. The Cahir clubwoman had the opportunity, or opportunities, to head off to Oz but she was not for moving.

Moloney is in her third year of a Physical Education with Biology degree at DCU and as committed to that as she is with doing right by her team and teammates. "Yeah, I've been asked alright but that's not something that's on my radar at the minute," she says.

"I've college to finish too. Obviously Aisling and Orla are over there and if there were three of us that would end up as a big chunk gone from Tipperary.

"You're after working so hard to get to where you want to be. So when you're away, you can't do anything about it. Whereas if you're here, you can try kick a few wides or do something; hit a few corner flags! At least you've some sort of control when you're here.

"As one of the older ones in the panel, there are a lot of young ones in year... That isn't the main reason but there's probably a combination of reasons. College is probably the main one that's keeping me from going at the minute, but maybe in the future. I'd kind of like to step away from sport for the year and do a bit of travelling. Although sport plays a massive part in my life, it's not the be all and end all for me."

Moloney was at an event, at Lidl's headquarters in Tallaght, to mark the commencement of the 2020 Lidl National Football Leagues. 'The Battle of the Champions', Tipperary and Dublin, will be the first game of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association's live coverage of the league. A game from each of the seven regulation rounds of league fixtures will be broadcast live on the LGFA's Facebook page.

For Moloney, there is no better place to start than taking on the reigning All-Ireland senior champs.

"You're going to learn fairly lively," she says, "what you need to work on.

"It is what it is. You can't avoid them and we don't want to avoid them. We're up senior now. We have to go as hard as we can at them and do the best we can do, and see what comes out of it.

"That's the only way we're going to learn this year, it's to go at teams and see if we can break them down."