Megan still pinching herself
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
AMONG the media fanfare that has been directed towards the Queensland Firebirds this week in the lead up to tonight's national league knockout semi-final a Coffs Harbour girl has been pinching herself.
It's been a long road from playing netball on a Saturday at Coffs Harbour's Vost Park to playing with the Firebirds for Meegan Rooney.
"It's been bizarre this week but it's the stuff you dream about as a little kid," the 22 year-old said.
Training this week in preparation for the big clash against the Melbourne Phoenix has been the best that it's ever been with Rooney saying that every player has been a 'bag of beans' from excitement.
"Especially coming from last year when we finished on the bottom without winning a game," the primary teaching student added.
"This year we've come fourth and won half of our games.
"Last year we knew we could match it with the other teams but we couldn't put it all together. Now the hard work that we've put in has all paid off."
Rooney hasn't had much court time lately with her duties reduced to sitting on the bench and playing in the State League.
Naturally the locally born-and-bred girl would love to get out there tonight in Melbourne but she understands that it's difficult to break into the team at the moment.
"Our captain Peta Stephens is in my position at goal defence which makes it hard with her experience and she's really performing well as well," Rooney explained.
"Then again it's great just to be a part of it, I love it."
Tonight is the first finals appearance for the Queensland Firebirds in the 10-year history of the national competition and Rooney has no doubts that most of the credit for the improved performance should be given to the legendary former Australian captain Vicki Wilson who took over as coach this season.
"Probably 90 per cent is because of her," she said.
"There are so many things about her that make her great, just the way she conducts herself and the things that she teaches you beyond netball like life skills.
"She's an inspiration to all of us and all the girls love to play for her."
Taking on the might of the reigning champs on their home court is a challenge but Rooney says that it's not one that is beyond the Firebirds.
"They're not playing that well at the moment and we're on a real high so we're going to put up a fight definitely," she said.
"The first time we played them this year we were up by four at half time and we've improved ten-fold since then."
A delayed telecast of tonight's minor semi-final can be seen on the ABC from 9.30pm.