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Meath hoping to make it third time lucky

Story by Fergal Lynch

Friday, 24th August, 2018 2:47pm

Meath hoping to make it third time lucky

Shauna Ennis Meath Amanda McLoone Roscommon

LADIES ALL-IRELAND IFC SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. That old adage has stood Meath Ladies well in the All-Ireland IFC over the last couple of years and next Saturday in Dr Hyde Park they will hope to reach the final with victory over Roscommon.
Last year Meath lost out to Tipperary at the penultimate hurdle in Semple Stadium and next Saturday, for the second year in succession, they will have to face a semi-final opponent on their home turf, but hopefully this time the outcome will be different.
Next week's clash will be the third meeting with Roscommon in 2018 and Meath manager Eamonn Murray will be hoping it will be third time lucky after his charges lost to the Connacht side in NFL Div 3 earlier in the spring and then last month in the All-Ireland IFC qualifiers.
“We really owe them one at this stage, they have proven to be a bit of a thorn in our side this year, but we still have huge belief in ourselves and we feel we can finally get one over on them,” Murray told the Meath Chronicle.
“We are under no illusions about the size of the challenge ahead of us, but we relish the underdogs tag. No matter what people try to tell you, we are the underdogs going into this game because they have held the upperhand on us already twice this year.
“However, I believe we play better when the expectations aren't as high. Just look at the game against Wicklow in the Leinster championship. We were expected to coast past them that day, but they caught us on the hop.
“We were also expected to beat Roscommon in Kinnegad a couple of weeks ago, but they aren't Connacht champions for nothing, they are an exceptional outfit.
“Last week against Clare we were written off, but we dug deep and produced a fine performance, so we always seem to do reasonably well when our backs are against trhe wall,” said Murray.
It is that type of spirit that has moved Meath just two steps away from a return to senior football, but Roscommon will present another formidable challenge.
The Connacht champions proved in their quarter-final win over favourites Laois that they can be rightly considered as genuine title contenders.
In players like Laura Fleming, Jenny Higgins, Joanne Cregg, Rebecca Finan and Alice Kelly Roscommon have a powerhouse midfield and a devastating attacking unit.
Meath have been hit by the withdrawal of Emma Troy and Michelle Peel from their panel, while long term injury victim Sarah Powderly is another huge defensive blow, but the Royals have adapted well and are improving as the summer progresses.
Players like Orlagh Lally, Katie Newe and Sarah Wall are still minor, while the outstanding Megan Thynne and Aoibhin Cleary are only 19-years-old and already mainstays in a half-back line that is superbly marshalled by Shauna Ennis.
Add in the return of Orlaith Duff after a few years away from inter-county football and the outstanding form of Monica McGuirk in goals and it is easy to see how Meath have developed a strong defensive unit.
Up front Stacey Grimes has been scoring heavily of late, while others such as Niamh O'Sullivan, Vikki Wall, Fiona O'Neill and Marion Farrelly are also proven goal scorers.
It is crucual that Meath get off to a good start. The last time out against Roscommon they missed a flurry of early scores and allowed the Connacht champions stay in the game and grow in confidence. 
If Meath can get off to a good start then that could be half the battle towards securing a place in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park.

THE TEAMS

Meath - Monica McGuirk (Duleek/Bellewstown); Orlagh Duff (Dee Rangers), Orlagh Lally (Clann na nGael), Katie Newe (Ratoath); Aoibhin Cleary (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), Shauna Ennis (Na Fianna), Megan Thynne (Dunsany); Maire O’Shaughnessy (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), Kate Byrne (Duleek/Bellewstown); Aoibheann Leahy (Navan O'Mahonys), Vikki Wall (Dunboyne), Stacey Grimes (Seneschalstown); Marion Farrelly (St Michael's), Niamh O’Sullivan (Royal Gaels), Emma White (St Patrick's).

Roscommon - H Cummins; H Ennis, A McLoone, M Kelly; S Bruen, A MacAuliffe, S Kenny; J Cregg, J Higgins; A Kelly, R Wynne, L Fleming; S Brady, R Finan, N Feeney.

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE
TG4 All Ireland Intermediate Semi-Final – ET if necessary, Live TG4
Meath v Roscommon, 1.00pm, Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon 

TG4 All Ireland Senior Semi-Final – ET if necessary, Live TG4
Cork v Donegal, 2.45pm, Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon

TG4 All Ireland Senior Semi-Final – ET if necessary, Live TG4
Dublin v Galway, 4.30pm, Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon

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