/ GAA

Cunningham content to be under the radar

Updated: Wednesday, 25 Apr 2012 17:32

Meath have their work cut out for them against Cork
Meath have their work cut out for them against Cork

Meath boss Paula Cunningham insists that going is as underdogs against holders Cork in next Sunday’s Bord Gáis Energy Ladies National Football League Division 1 semi-final is "perfect" for her players.

League and All-Ireland champions Cork won all seven of their group games to reach the last four but received one of their stiffest tests from Meath in March.

The Leesiders led by nine points at one stage in proceedings but Meath rallied to finish within a goal of Eamonn Ryan’s team – going down by 2-8 to 3-8.

The Royals are rank outsiders in next weekend’s repeat meeting at Crettyard but that suits Cunningham and her players just fine.

Cunningham smiled: “Perfect. It’s nice to go in as underdogs. We can take the shackles off and not going in with those nerves can help us to settle in during the first 10-15 minutes.

"Sometimes when you go in as favourites, you’re expected to score early and when you don’t, you can get frustrated. But anything that comes our way is a bonus and let Cork be the favourites.

"They deserve that tag, they were undefeated in the League and we have nothing to lose.”

Meath squeezed into fourth place ahead of Laois on the final day of group matches, as a 4-6 to 0-8 victory against Donegal proved good enough to set up a date with Cork.

And Cunningham admitted: “We’re looking forward to it, very excited. “This is where any team with ambition wants to be, on the national stage against the best team in Ireland over the last number of years.

"We can test ourselves and see where we’re at. We have serious respect for Cork but a lot of belief in ourselves too and we’re working very hard.”

Cunningham, a native of Monaghan, added: “The first goal in the League was to make sure that we stayed up. We managed to qualify for the semi-finals and anything after that is a bonus. Getting to the final would be fantastic but when you’re sitting down to analyse and prepare for Cork, you search for their weak spots and realise that there aren’t any.

“We will have to produce a top perfomance and its a day when we’ll need to take any opportunities that arise.

“When we met earlier in the season, it was a good game of football.

“The first half was pretty even - we played much better than Cork but they got goals. At the start of the second half they came out booming and went nine ahead at one stage but we showed a lot of character to come back to within three points. We were happy with that and looked to build on that performance.”

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