"The best day of my life" is how jubilant Meath manager Eamonn Murray described the county's 2-17 to 4-05 TG4 All-Ireland intermediate final triumph over Westmeath at Croke Park on Sunday, and it was a day that he feared might never come due to the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic in an uncertain season. 

Beaten finalists at intermediate level in each of the last two seasons, the Royals were rocked early by a Westmeath outfit which exploded out of the blocks at headquarters. 

Westmeath led by 3-00 to 1-02 after six enthralling minutes off football, with a Lucy McCartan brace and a third from Anna Jones inflicting early damage on Murray's side. 

Bridgetta Lynch and Vikki Wall struck back with Meath goals before the break and they rode their momentum to All-Ireland glory in the second half, with Emma Duggan proving unplayable at times and finishing with a personal haul of 0-07.

"We worked damned hard for it," Murray insisted afterwards. 

"Covid came along and we thought 'this is not good news for us, we're gone'. 

"Then we thought some football might be played and we were very excited about it. 

"The girls were training on their own the whole time and this is brilliant – brilliant weather, brilliant day, brilliant everything! 

"What more could you ask for today? 

"The only disappointment I have is that the parents can't be here and the families. 

"This is the best day of my life, 15 years with Meath and this is my biggest day by a mile."

Westmeath had Jo-Hanna Maher sin-binned 13 minutes from time, compounding their fate, but manager Sean Finnegan was proud of their efforts. 

"I can't fault the girls," he said. "They gave it absolutely everything out there.

"At half-time, we felt we weren’t in a bad position. There was a bit of a breeze there and the penalty came at a good time for us, but we just didn’t have the athleticism, I would say, to push on and run at them.

"Look, they’ve been here three years in a row now. They know what it’s about. The whole day didn’t faze them. Maybe some of our younger girls, who’ve never been here before, it was a bigger day for them. You learn from these things and who knows next year what happens."