When Eamonn Murray took over Meath two years ago, after working with their U-16s and minors for years, they were in disarray.
Between club rivalries and lack of commitment he needed a strong, vibrant backroom to try and get everyone on board.
First he persuaded Paul Garrigan to join him and then Michelle Grimes, a woman he regularly met on sidelines who seemed to be a beacon of positivity.
She thought he was only ringing to get her to persuade her daughter Stacey back to the inter-county fold.
That was a matter for another day and took a lot of phone-calls but the 21-year-old Dundalk IT student is now a vital cog, who notched up 1-7 (1-0 pen, 4fs) alone in this year’s semi-final defeat of Roscommon.
Murray promised them Meath would get back to Croke Park for the first time since their junior victory in 1994.
Tipp only beat them by a goal in last year’s intermediate semi-finals and they also reached the Division 3 final this year.
Her native Rathkenny had no girls’ team so Grimes played with their U-8 boys to start and right up to their U-12s, even after she joined Senchalstown’s girls.
She led Loreto Navan to an All-Ireland Schools Senior ‘B’ title and won player of the match awards in county senior finals while still in her teens.
She also played soccer for Kentstown in the Metropolitan Girls League, a pathway for international soccer where she rubbed shoulders with rising stars like Roma McLaughlin and Keeva Keenan.
She played a challenge against Arsenal once for the MGL and in schools’ home internationals.
“But I never stuck at it long enough,” she admits. “If you want to make it in soccer you have to go to a club in Dublin,” something Meath goalkeeper Monica McGuirk has done with UCD and Peamount.
“I’m not saying I’d have been good enough but it would always have been Gaelic first,” Grimes adds.
So why, given that she continued to star for club and college, did she never play for the Meath minors and come and go with their seniors.
“There were a lot of different managements and I just wasn’t enjoying it,” she says. “When you’re playing so much football you need to enjoy it to play your best. There’s a new vibe in the camp now and it’s very enjoyable.”
“She hasn’t missed a penalty yet,” Murray notes. “And whenever I get to training she’s always there 45 minutes before me, practising frees.”