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Meath boss Murray: 'That's our best football that we played all year. Pure heroes, for life'

The reigning champions booked their return to the All-Ireland final with a hard-fought two-point win over Donegal.

Meath manager Eamonn Murray celebrates with Niamh O'Sullivan after today's All-Ireland semi-final.
Meath manager Eamonn Murray celebrates with Niamh O'Sullivan after today's All-Ireland semi-final.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

MEATH MANAGER EAMONN Murray hailed “our best football all year” after the All-Ireland champions dug out a two-point semi-final win over Donegal today.

Emma Duggan was the hero down the home straight at Croke Park, as the Royals overcame two second-half sin-bins to book a return to the decider, where they’ll face Kerry on 31 July.

“That’s two weeks in-a-row,” Murray told reporters post-match, referring to their last-gasp one-point victory over Galway last Saturday, Duggan the match winner then too.

“And this time last year we were six points down against Cork and we came back. Today was another nail-biter. When we lost Máire [O'Shaughnessy] we put six points up on the board. It’s unbelievable. That’s our best football that we played all year.”

Meath went in 1-3 to 0-3 down at half time, Niamh McLaughlin’s penalty the difference after a poor opening period.

“Ah, it was terrible,” Murray reflected. “They got a good eating at half-time and it looked like it worked. When you suffer two sin-bins and (concede) a penalty it’s very hard to win but we won in the end.

“We didn’t have to tell them at half time. They had a good meeting of their own so they knew exactly what they were doing wrong. It was so flat in the first half, there was no energy at all. But that all came good. In the second half, like, that’s the best we’ve played. I can’t believe we won it! They could have got a goal, Mary Kate [Lynch] got the ball off the line, my God, we were lucky, some of ye are going to mass every day!

“We didn’t really have any decent chance at goal at all, which is not like us. Stacey [Grimes] kept us in the game with a few great frees. The last day she missed a few but by God she didn’t today. Duggie again, got the big ball at the end, a marvellous score again.”

donegal-v-meath-tg4-all-ireland-ladies-football-senior-championship-semi-final Emma Duggan is presented with her Player of the Match award. Source: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

Reflecting on “the good, the bad and the ugly” — the “dreadful decision” to sin-bin Vikki Wall and “dodgy” penalty amongst it — the All-Ireland winning manager paid a glowing tribute to his team.

“What can I say about this bunch? And this one here beside me,” he smiled with a nod to Duggan on his left-hand side, “pure heroes, for life.

“All over the pitch they had it again today. Mark Kate again, Katie Newe, all the backs were very good again. Orlagh Lally at midfield, Stacey was amazing again today. Look, they’re all heroes as far as I’m concerned and we’ll hopefully we get Niamhy G [Gallogly] back for the next day so it’s all good.”

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The Kingdom lie in wait on 31 July, Declan Quill and Darragh Long’s side running out nine-point winners over Mayo in their semi-final today to book a first decider appearance since 2012.

“Look, I know nothing about Kerry,” Murray concluded. “We’ll look at Kerry this week. We have two weeks off now to worry about them. I know they’re very good. They put a massive score up today. They’ll have no fear of us.”

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