Maire O’Shaughnessy leads the Meath charge from midfield during Sunday’s Ladies All-Ireland SFC final against Kerry. Photo: John Quirke /

ALL-IRELAND SFC FINAL REVIEW 'This is a very chilled bunch of girls and that's the key'

How do you react when a big game you are playing in starts like a train crash? Nothing goes right and your opponents look like they might be out the gap and over the horizon before you find your stride? Do you panic? Wave the white flag? Give up?

Not this Meath team as they showed when they slipped behind Kerry early on in Sunday's showdown.

They have too much faith in themselves, too much experience in the bank to be rocked even by a start straight from hell. "We don't really do panic," is how midfielder Maire O'Shaughnessy put it as she spoke to the media following Sunday's victory.

The Donaghmore/Ashbourne player had another of those games on Sunday when she won a world of ball around midfield and embarked on a series of surging runs forward, helping to turn defence into attack.

Much of her work goes unnoticed yet she's a vital member of the team and in the past manager Eamonn Murray has spoken of her unselfish contribution to the overall cause.

O'Shaughnessy pointed out how the lack of panic derives from the type of characters that are to be found in this Meath squad, her views an insight into what turns a group of people into high achievers.

"This is a very chilled bunch of girls, everyone is quite laid back and that's a key as to why we get on so well, there are no big, big personalities, everyone is very chilled and under pressure we just preform and I suppose that has been drilled into us as well by our management team."

"We knew what Kerry were going to bring, we knew they are fantastically skilled footballers, especially at getting goals so it (their bright start) wasn't a shock but we knew we had to switch on and not let more goals go in and leave a mountain for us to climb."

She pointed out that the players and management have been together for the past six years and suggested that was "the secret of their success", the fact that they stayed together and got to know each other so well.

"Even though there is a vast range of ages on the team, we have experienced players in their early thirties then some in their early twenties but I do think experience did stand to us today."

O'Shaughnessy spoke about she didn't agree with the assertion that Meath weren't playing well during the championship campaign. Instead she suggested how as champions other teams were out to beat them. They had a target on their backs from the start.

She spoke about how in ladies football now "the bar is constantly rising and rising" and any team who wish to stay ahead of the pack can't afford to let standards slip. Not even a millimetre.

In revealing another insight about the reasons for the team's success the Donaghmore/Ashbourne player spoke about how the players routine doesn't change whether it's the opening round of the league before a couple of hundred spectators or an All-Ireland final before 40,000 plus spectators. Routine, habit and "practice, practice, practice" are unalterable fundamentals.

"All that talk, there are a lot of Meath people who are quite confident in our abilities that was thrown around a lot and look it's great, it's in the media also, it's fine but those things never come into our camp."

Yet despite the fact that Meath were champions - and had that target on their backs - O'Shaughnessy says she didn't feel any more hype or pressure than last year when they went into the final as rank outsiders.

"It was just a different challenge. Last year heading into the final against Dublin we were massive underdogs, this year we were maybe slight favourites, I'm not sure. We were familiar-ish with Kerry, we haven't played them in over a year, so they were completely different years but we kept the preparation the same and it has worked out for us."

So now we know what makes up a successful team like Meath. Players who practice hard, who don't allowed themselves to be affected by the media or supporter-generated hype. Players who believe and, above all, don't panic when the train they are on slips off track.