'The feeling of winning an All-Ireland is indescribable' 2 months ago

'The feeling of winning an All-Ireland is indescribable'

Laura McGinley is not fond of spare time.

She likes to keep busy and between her basketball, Gaelic football and studying at DCU she makes sure that there's not an awful lot of time to be wasted on the couch.

"It's such a foreign thing to me to go home in the evenings and do nothing. I love being busy and my best friends are all on the football team so I get to see them there but yeah the football keeps me very busy."

Football brought her to DCU, it brought her some of her best days out in Croke Park and it also spurred on an impromptu singing career that has led to gigs from Howth to Monaghan.

The third year marketing student will captain DCU in the O'Connor Cup this year as the Dublin college look to defend their crown from last year's competition after winning last year's title but the spring will be a little bit quieter for McGinley who chose to walk away from the Dublin panel this year with a planned J1 trip to San Diego on the horizon.

She admits that it was tough to watch on from the stands during the Jacks' recent comeback win over Mayo last month and sitting out is a relatively new experience for her after being steeped in Dublin football for so long.

"My dad would have brought me to training and all the trials when I was younger but when I was in U16's I made five very good friends and they're still in the senior team now," she told SportsJOE.

"When you've been with people four or five times a week, and you've made a connection and you'd do anything for them, it turns into something off the pitch and I think I've found that a lot with the girls I've played with throughout the years. That connection.

"Even on our team holiday I remember one of our last team nights out together and it just kind of hit me that 'oh my god' this is the last time I'm going to be with the team for like the next year.

"I was really upset about it and I didn't think I would be because I thought it was just a hobby but it's more than a hobby to me, it's something I put everything into for nine or 10 months of the year for this one thing. You give up so much for it."

As she closes out the third year of college she looks forward to an exciting summer along the west coast of the United States and it should be a lot more relaxed than the previous summer where she was preparing to try and defend an All-Ireland title after the Dubs finally ousted Mayo the season before.

Football gives McGinley a focus, a wider friendship group, and at times a reason to withdraw from holidays and other aspects of student life, but the effort required is ultimately justified when she's able to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand.

"I remember in my second year of minor we made it to the All-Ireland final and I was meant to go on my sixth year holiday but I didn't end up going and I was looking at pictures of all of them having a great time and then we had the All-Ireland final and we lost to Cork," she adds.

"But I didn't actually care because this is what I wanted to do. I didn't care that I missed the holiday. This is what I wanted to do and it was such an amazing experience.

"Then coming up to senior, having played a few All-Ireland finals in minor and semi's and losing them, then going on to win in Croke Park was just the best feeling ever. I can't describe it. It's indescribable. I didn't get much game time last year and I did get more this year but even just being a part of that is just such a memorable experience."

She will look to link up with the local GAA club in San Diego on her travels but for now it's O'Connor Cup and DCU. Dublin will be in her future, if manager Mick Bohan is willing to have her back she jokes, but for now it's all smiles, songs and enjoying college. From Dublin to San Diego.

The LGFA Gourmet Food Parlour O'Connor Cup final takes place this Saturday, March 9. The 2019 competition will be held at Technological University Dublin and will be shown on the Sport TG4 YouTube page with commentary provided by Dáithí de Mórdha and Sorcha Furlong.