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Meath March On To The All-Ireland After Incredible Battle With Donegal

Meath March On To The All-Ireland After Incredible Battle With Donegal
By Emma Connolly Updated

Reporting from Croke Park

Donegal: 1-07

Meath: 0-12

Talk about sitting on the edge of your seat. If ever there was an advertisement for Ladies Gaelic Football, then this match was it. Meath are through to their 2nd consecutive All-Ireland Final, after a thrilling contest which was a game made up of two completely different halves. Stacey Grimes and Emma Duggan showed their class amongst the team to steal a 2-point win against Donegal.

In the first half Donegal were the better team. They won the throw-in and got a first minute score from play from Geraldine McLaughlin.

But from the get-go, Vikki Wall  bombed down the field which then led to a free for Meath scored by Stacey Grimes. Five minutes were gone, and corner forward Wall has already two interceptions ticked off. 

Meath were hounded by Donegal’s pressure in the first half and hit a few poor wides. Donegal had most of the possession, but it was a very low scoring 30 minutes.

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Amazingly, their seemed to be a magnet on the post today as Donegal hit the same post once again. 

With 12 minutes to go, Donegal got a point from play from their captain Niamh McLaughlin, after a well-earned fight of scrapping for the ball by the Cusack Stand.

Donegal’s effort for goal was denied by Meath goalie Monica McGuirk bravely getting in the way, but there was an incident which awarded Donegal a penalty. Captain Niamh McLaughlin finished a brilliant penalty into the top right corner, a beauty of a kick.

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16 July 2022; Niamh McLaughlin of Donegal scores her side's first goal, a penalty, past Meath manager Monica McGuirk during the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Donegal and Meath at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The current All-Ireland champions were struggling with Donegal’s pace and game plan, but just before half time, Meath’s full forward Stacey, brilliantly blocks down a goal attempt at the other side of the pitch, and the counterattack saw Meath get a point from play by Orlagh Lally to finish out the half. Half time score 1-03 to 0-3.

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Meath v Donegal: Meath come out with a fury in the second half

Meath came out a force to be reckoned with, winning the throw-in and a point from play from Wall, followed shortly by a point from Niamh O’Sullivan. 

Meath got their 3rd consecutive point from play from Emma Duggan. The Royal County ladies finally started to up it a gear, and became the team we all know and want to see.

Meath’s zonal defence caused havoc for Donegal on kickouts and Donegal’s frustration was evident as they conceded another free that was again scored by Stacey Grimes. Donegal got their first attack of the second half but goes wide for Karen Guthrie.

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Stacey Grimes scored yet another free for Meath. Donegal seemed to have lost their rhythm but finally got a point from play that deflects off the left post by Yvonne Bonner. The game was tense now as Deirdre Foley performed a lovely interception for Donegal and Yvonne Bonner scored a beautiful point from play to bring the game to a draw.

With 10 minutes to go Wall got a yellow card- a huge blow for Meath as they are down to 14 players for the last stent of the game. 

Donegal almost had a goal in the 51st minute but Meath full-back Mary Kate Lynch saves the day on the goal-line to prevent this, and the game remains a draw. Meath weny ahead by one with a perfect point from Emma Duggan, with 8 minutes to go.

The atmosphere erupted in Croker as Monica McGuirk stopped a bullet of a shot from Karen Guthrie of Donegal. 

With 7 minutes to go Emma Duggan scored a huge free. She stepped up when the team need her most, as she intercepted a Donegal attack down at the opposite 21 yard line. Three minutes to go and Donegal got a free, scored by Karen Guthrie. There was 1 point between them with 2.5 mins remaining. 

Wall came back on from her sinbin for the last 20 seconds, and the crowd cheered gallantly as Meath defeated Donegal by two points to reach the All- Ireland final.

The emotions are high. Devastating for Donegal who gave everything, and emptied the tanks. But Meath were that 1% hungrier, and that 1% smarter when it came down to the crunch. Mindset has won this one. What a game! Roll on a raging final between Meath and Kerry.

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