TG4 All-Ireland intermediate final: big match preview
THIS has all the ingredients for a potential classic. Meath, last year's runners-up, face off against the 2017 winners Tipperary in a fixture that looks set to produce open and entertaining fare.
Both teams were impressive in their respective semi-final wins - Meath produced a brilliant second half performance against Roscommon, after Tipperary had accounted for Sligo in the opening game of the Nowlan Park double-header.
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The counties have already met in the championship, when Tipp enjoyed a comprehensive 6-10 to 1-14 victory in the round-robin stages of the All-Ireland Series in Ardfinnan. The home side rocked Meath with a flurry of early goals and while the Royals found their feet later in the game, the result was never in doubt from a long way out.
Meath manager Eamonn Murray and his players will have learned plenty from that sobering afternoon, and they regrouped to see off Wicklow and Longford and book a place in the knock-out stages.
At the All-Ireland quarter-final stage, Meath gained sweet revenge on Wexford, who had defeated them in the Leinster final, before producing a magnificent second half display against Roscommon. Meath had a five-point lead at half-time, but the winning margin was out to 17 points by the final whistle.
Emma Duggan, a quite outstanding talent, contributed 1-5 in total, Fiona O'Neill chipped in with 1-4, there was a 1-3 haul from Orla Byrne, and Vikki Wall collected 1-2 as Meath turned on the style.
Tipperary may have been marked out as championship favourites from the start of the competition, but they'll face a fiercely-determined Meath outfit today, and a team carrying the hurt of final defeat at the hands of Tyrone last year. Meath were hit for six goals 12 months ago and will feel they didn't do themselves justice.
But here is another massive opportunity for Meath to show what they can do, and Tipp will be wary. For their part, the Premier County enjoyed a relatively straightforward campaign. Clare ran them close in the round-robin stages of the Munster Championship, before the gulf widened when the counties met in the provincial decider. They would meet for a third time, however, and Tipp were handed an extremely testing afternoon, before eventually prevailing by two points in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Even if they do win today's game, and bring the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup back to the Premier County again, some may still view Tipperary's fine Lidl National League Division 1 campaign as the high point of the campaign.
Tipp defeated Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn and Monaghan in Thurles to preserve top-flight status for 2020, before switching attention to the championship. After conquering Munster, Tipp won three from three in their All-Ireland qualifier group, survived the Clare challenge, and upped the ante in their most recent outing against Sligo.
Caoimhe Condon, Aishling Moloney, Aisling McCarthy and Angela McGuigan were all on song as Tipp racked up an impressive 3-15 total.
But Meath will have noted that Tipp conceded three goals in the semi-final, and they'll also gain confidence from the fact that Clare ran Shane Ronayne's side so close in the last-eight tie.
PATHS TO THE FINAL
Leinster - Rd 1: Meath 4-15 Laois 2-9; Semi-final: Meath 5-14 Wicklow 0-6; Final: Wexford 1-11 Meath 1-8.
All-Ireland - Rd 1: Tipperary 6-10 Meath 1-14; Rd 2: Meath 4-19 Wicklow 0-10; Rd 3: Meath 0-19 Longford 2-9; Quarter-final: Meath 4-15 Wexford 3-14; Semi-final: Meath 4-20 Roscommon 1-12
Munster - Rd 1: Tipperary 10-22 Limerick 0-4; Semi-final: Tipperary 2-15 Clare 2-11; Final: Tipperary 0-20 Clare 1-4
All-Ireland - Rd 1: Tipperary 6-10 Meath 1-14; Rd 2: Tipperary 7-22 Longford 2-4; Rd 3: Tipperary 4-17 Wicklow 3-12; Quarter-final: Tipperary 1-13 Clare 2-8; Semi-final: Tipperary 3-15 Sligo 3-5
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