"I did for one second think of flinging the boot at him" - Maher's journey an inspirational thing
After losing the 2011 All-Ireland camogie final, Galway centre back Therese Maher was down and out.
14 years of moral victories and near misses counted for nothing at that moment, as the final whistle sounded and her stomach turned at the reality of losing her fifth All-Ireland final in five attempts.
It was Wexford who got the better of Galway on this September Sunday, an Ursula Jacob masterclass inspiring the Slaneysiders to a third triumph in five years. But for Galway veteran Maher, the pain was raw and the loss left her empty.
She takes up the story in her Laochra Gael tribute show, which will air on Thursday night on TG4. As the roars rang around Drumcondra but the heartbreak hit home in the dressing room's silence, Maher's exchange with a Croke Park caretaker offered a compelling glimpse into just how much of a hold the GAA, the journey and victory has on people.
"I remember I just walked straight into the dressing room afterwards, it was my fifth All-Ireland to lose," recalls the Athenry woman.
"I was in there on my own and I remember this caretaker came in and he said 'It's alright love, there's always next year.' I remember looking at him going 'are you for real? I'm 30 years of age, just after getting married. I'm after losing my fifth All-Ireland. I did for one second think of flinging the boot at him, the poor man..."
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) January 19, 2021
Thankfully, the story doesn't end there. True to style, the resilient Maher bounced back once more to round off a marvellous career in September 2013 with a near seminal victory over Kilkenny.
After playing with Galway for 15 years, winning five All-Stars and a Player of the Year award in the process, this was the perfect way to sign off on a career of grit and determination.
This fairy-tale ending, along with the knocks, the losses and the personal heartbreak suffered along the way, will be documented on Thursday night's programme.
"When we lost mam and dad, we could never get them back. Sport gave me an outlet where I could challenge that anger that I was feeling," Maher says of losing her parents.
— Laochra Gael (@Laochra_Gael) January 18, 2021
By 2013, they were certainly smiling down.