Meath manager Andy McEntee says that some of the criticism that was directed towards his team in the past few weeks was "unfair." 

The Royals booked their place in the Super 8s following a narrow one-point win over Clare on Sunday, with a crunch tie against Donegal now awaiting them next Sunday.

Meath's hard fought win comes on the back of a disappointing Leinster final defeat to Dublin, where McEntee's side managed to score just four points throughout the decider against the champions.

Their poor performance attracted a lot of criticism in the aftermath, and McEntee says that the last few weeks were difficult for his camp.

"Yes, they've been difficult for everybody," he told RTÉ Sport, "a lot of things [were] said. Some of it warranted, some of it unfair. I couldn't praise this bunch of players half enough. They've been absolutely fantastic." 

McEntee also said that advancing to the Super 8s was progress for the county and described it as a target that "we set our hearts on a long time ago".

He praised the Clare team for the character they showed in Portlaoise. Colm Collins' side were in contention throughout the tie and outscored Meath by 0-06 to 0-03 in the closing minutes before coming up short at the final whistle.

"Clare have produced some fantastic performances over the last number of years," says McEntee. "I'd have to give them loads of credit today, they pushed us to the absolute limit.

"They've had a fantastic couple of years under Colm [Collins] and all my dealings with Colm have been very upfront and very manly so I wouldn't expect anything else from a Clare team."