Meath coach: Donegal 'the closest I've ever seen to a one-man team'

Meath coach Colm Nally reckons that the Royal County would be sitting pretty with a win in the Super 8s if Michael Murphy had been playing for them last weekend.

Meath coach: Donegal 'the closest I've ever seen to a one-man team'

Meath coach Colm Nally reckons that the Royal County would be sitting pretty with a win in the Super 8s if Michael Murphy had been playing for them last weekend.

Nally identified the Donegal captain and man of the match in Ballybofey as instrumental in the Ulster champions' 2-19 to 1-13 Phase 1 win and said that Donegal are 'the closest team I've ever seen to a one-man team'.

Respected Nally, who guided St Colmcilles to the All-Ireland intermediate club final in 2017, was delighted with Meath's performance for three quarters of the game.

They led by a point with 54 minutes played but were overwhelmed in the run in with Murphy at his very best and featuring in a variety of roles and positions.

The strong showing against a side tipped to push hard in the All-Ireland race has given Meath real hope of pulling off an upset when they play Mayo at Croke Park this Sunday.

"This is new territory for ourselves," Nally told the We Are Meath podcast. "We've been going relatively easy in training because we kind of expected this. But the point we've made was that the likes of Donegal and Tyrone are training for the Super 8s where we were training to get into the Super 8s. We've probably come over our peak slightly, whereas they're kind of just reaching their peak.

But in saying that, like I'm not saying Donegal are a one-man team but they're the closest team I've ever seen to a one-man team.

"Michael Murphy was getting scores, then he was in the middle catch the balls and then at the end he was clearing the ball off the line. So I mean if you put him in our team, I think you'd see a different result."

Meath have been tipped by most commentators to struggle in their group and to slip to defeat in all three games with Kerry visiting in Phase 3.

Nally said the bigger picture is that the games are vital learning opportunities for a young side with Donegal clearly bringing their greater experience to bear last Sunday.

James Conlon made his full Championship debut for Meath against Laois in the Leinster championship while Shane Walsh, who has just completed his Leaving Cert, has come on in their last two games.

"It's something we've talked about and that we've addressed, you've so much to get out of these Super 8s games if you remain positive and if you prepare properly for it and if you say to yourself, 'Listen, we have to get A, B and C out of it'," said Nally. "Every day you're getting new players in; Shane Walsh and James Conlon, they're learning more.

"It's still a relatively young team so to get this sort of exposure, that's what we're looking for. You have to keep that performance element focused and that's what we're doing all the time, focusing.

We probably snatched at a few shots in the end (against Donegal), we would have liked to keep the scoreboard ticking over a bit better.

"That's an area that (we have to improve), we probably went for goals when we should have been just keeping the scoreboard ticking over. It's all new to us and we're all learning."

Nally said the nine-point loss to Donegal didn't reflect Meath's strong display.

"The same with the Dublin result, it didn't mirror our performance," he said. "That performance (against Donegal) was excellent. For three quarters or more we were more than a match for the Ulster champions in their own back yard."

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