Cora Staunton: Meath Has Proven A Deadly Formula And He Raised The Bar For Everyone

Win an All-Ireland, and people will say you’re a good team. But to enter the realm of the great, you need another.

These myth players have had a cap on their minds throughout the season: Last year’s desire to show that victory was no fluke was, in fact, women’s football’s superpower. And now we know for sure.

This game, and his season, was living proof of the old cliché that defense wins championships. For me, the system that Eamon Murray created goes back to Donegal’s predominance in the men’s game in 2012: It’s a lot of body behind the ball, and they leave one or two players in the forward line. – A Stacy Grimes or Emma Duggan or Niamh O’Sullivan.

The rest filter back, they don’t even see where the ball is coming – they’re focused on getting back into their system of play around ’45, trying to turn it around. Once they do, they become runners on the ball and break as quickly as they can.

You have to be very fit to play this system, but when you have runners like Emma Troy, Iobin Leahy, Aobhin Cleary, Orlag Lally, Vicky Wall, and Emma Duggan – powerful athletes who get up and down the field quickly – this one Deadly formula.

Kerry found out yesterday. Once working at full capacity, they were steamrolled by Meath’s counter-attacking machine, with all three goals coming out of turnover.

Carey went off on the dream start with a 1-2 to 0-0 lead, but it wasn’t really because of Meath’s nerves as much as he was doing. Monica McGuirk was upset from the opening door and a few bad kick-outs allowed Carey to take over. But once Meath settled in, he never looked back. They were three o’clock at half-time and were at rest, with goals killing any lives left in the goal Carey.

Meath was composed, professional in what he did, and Carey Forward had no way of breaking it. From time to time, they ran into walls of meth and had many turnovers, especially in the second half. The Meath half-back line was important.

Emma Troy, Aobin Leahy and Aobin Cleary were all excellent. I thought Klee was the player of the match – he, Emma Troy and Niamh O’Sullivan were excellent all day, driving Meath at every opportunity.

Every time they ran into Kerry, it bothered them and it could have been a more one-sided score. Meath had a lot of wides, while Emma Duggan had a quiet day playing in the attack. But he was still a massive influence, changing a lot and was normal around the midfield area.

We hear a lot about Meath’s big names – Duggan and Vicky Wall, who both did well – but what showed me the all-round quality of Meath. Niamh O’Sullivan came in with 1-2, and I was really impressed with the full back six.

Orla Byrne was excellent, helping the half-back line to suppress Carey’s attacks. It was only a pity that the play was put on hold so many times, Maggie Farrelly was so happy that day.

It was a final that didn’t flow like other years, with so many frees around the middle third. It made a huge impact on the game and was a huge deal, which is never a good thing. If you’re trying to promote sports, with a big crowd there and a big TV audience, then that’s not what you want to see.

Either way, it didn’t affect the result. So far Meath has rehearsed pretty well for these big days, and it shows. This is their fifth final between Intermediate and Senior and having been a single panel in that time, their system has now been refined to a T.

They haven’t won more than 1-11 in any championship game this year and Eamon and his backroom team have done an amazing job – taking them from intermediate champions to back-to-back senior All-Irelands in 2020. This is really an amazing feat.

Now the question is whether they can sustain it. Orlagh Lally and Vikki are heading to Wall Oz, so you’d imagine they’re both gone for the next season unless they’re over a year old.

Murray also said that Emma Troy, a contender for player of the match, is traveling next year. Aoibheann Leahy picked up a very bad knee injury and hopes it is not an ACL. If so, he may have gone another.

From where I stand, only things like this can bring him down. But even if they don’t go ahead and win a third, what this side has already achieved is extraordinary. I thought Dublin had taken the sport to a whole new level – and they did – but Meath, with his physicality, strength and power, matched it and raised it up again.

Dublin, Cork, Donegal, Mayo, Armagh and Galway now have to raise their game to that level if they want to knock them out of their perch.

Those are the benchmarks – and it really is fantastic.