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'It is a massive team performance and nobody can do that on their own'

Emma Duggan was Meath’s hero in yesterday’s All-Ireland semi-final, and she’s not done yet.

Emma Duggan scored 0-4 against Donegal yesterday.
Emma Duggan scored 0-4 against Donegal yesterday.
Image: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

MEATH SHARPSHOOTER EMMA Duggan predicts “an even bigger performance” in the All-Ireland final, feeling the champions have “timed our run to perfection”.

20-year-old Duggan stepped up with inspirational scores down the home straight as the Royals dug out a two-point win over Donegal in yesterday’s semi-final.

The Dunboyne star was the buzzer-beater last week, her last-gasp point securing a quarter-final win over Galway, while her stunning late efforts yesterday ultimately set-up a final meeting with Kerry.

She well and truly stood up when it mattered most, scoring 0-4 in a Player of the Match performance, three of those big kicks coming in the final 10 minutes.

“It is a very strong team collective,” Duggan stressed afterwards. “You talk about big scores; I think it is about me being in the right position at the right time. I think that is what it comes down to. 

“There are players throughout the pitch; Mary Kate Lynch getting unbelievable turnovers, Emma Troy, Aoibhin Cleary and that’s what drives it up the pitch. It is a massive team performance and nobody can do that on their own and it proved it out there today.”

“I suppose the biggest challenge for us this year, I think, as individual players, is we’re being watched a lot closer this year compared to what we were last year,” she added. 

“That was something that we all had to get into our heads. None of us were pressing panic buttons four weeks ago when we weren’t performing. You can perform four, five, six weeks ago and not do it now when you really need to, and like Eamonn said, we’ve timed our run to perfection. I think we’re really starting to push on now when we really needed to. I think there’s an even bigger performance coming for the next day.”

Manager Murray was sitting on her right-hand side in the post-match press conference, noting just beforehand: “I think we’ve timed our run very well.

“There’s no point in winning the league by 20 points and losing today. We’ve timed our run to perfection. A lot of that comes down to Eugene Eivers, our strength and conditioning coach. We can thank him for that end of things, he knew exactly at what stage he wanted to perform.”

The Royals turned it on in the second half yesterday, having trailed 1-3 to 0-3 at the break.

They rattled off a flurry of unanswered scores, and powered on despite having 14 players on the field for 20 minutes, having lost Máire O’Shaughnessy and Vikki Wall to the sin-bin.

“I think what really kicked in was the hunger and desire there,” Duggan nodded. “It’s something that we have worked on. A number of times this year we’ve been left to 14 players and we probably haven’t managed the game like we would have liked.

“It was really nice to see it come to fruition when we really need it to there in the end.”

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Both Duggan and Murray hailed the group’s big game experience as the bid for back-to-back roars on.

“The experience of the last year in particular, being up senior has really stood to us,” the attacker noted. “There were some unbelievable games, the Cork game last year… it is nice coming in that you can dig a game out, that kind of hunger and desire when it comes down to it as well.

“It is not a nice position to be in on the pitch either, your heart is in your mouth, but it is nice to know that we can do it, this team just keeps coming back and doing it over and over again. It is really satisfying to know that.

“The 31st of July is going to be an unbelievable day, the next two weeks are going to be the best two weeks of our lives preparing for an All-Ireland final. What more would you want?”

“We just have to improve that 10% more than we had today. I think we can, after that finish. That will stand to us,” Murray added.

“There will be nothing in it again I’m sure, we never do anything easy in Meath so it will be another hectic game but a few months ago we didn’t think we would be in it but we are in it now and we won’t take it for granted.”

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Emma Duffy

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