Westmeath 2-9 Roscommon 0-13
A swift return to the highest echelon of championship football awaits the Westmeath ladies footballers following a two point success over Roscommon in a closely contested Intermediate championship semi-final fixture, a win which secured a final meeting with Meath in Croke Park, on Sunday, December 20.
Two goals in the first half of the contest proved crucial to the final scoreline outcome, Ciara Blundell raising a green flag in the opening minute of the game, with Karen Hegarty maintaining scoreboard supremacy as she netted in the latter moments of the initial thirty minute period.
Relegated from the senior championship last year, Westmeath are undefeated to date and will seek to achieve silverware success in GAA headquarters on December 20, the Lake County’s previous Intermediate championship success occurring in 2011.
Reflecting on the win, Westmeath manager, Sean Finnegan, paid credit to the defensive aspect of his team’s performance which ensured victory come the shrill of the final whistle.
“I know scores win games, but today was about defence, today was a grind. It was about the battle in the middle third of the pitch and we are just delighted. A semi-final is a terrible game to play, because the prize at the end of it brings a bit of fear into your play. I thought we played with a small bit of fear today.
“We knew Roscommon would get players back, so we worked on holding the ball and killing momentum, but they kept coming at us. There were two or three chances at the end there and as I said to Michael (Finneran, Roscommon manager ), there was a flick of a coin in that, we just got the luck,” Sean remarked.
Despite the disappointing start, Roscommon help possessional sway during the opening half and with captain Laura Fleming in excellent form from placed balls they gradually grew back into the game.
Aimee O’Connor and Fleming helped the Connacht side to five straight points and they led by the midway point of the half, but a fortunate goal from Hegarty just before the interval meant Westmeath were ahead by 2-6 to 0-8 at the break.
After the setback Michael Finneran’s side were impressive after the restart and they scored the first three points of the half, which closed the gap to one point, but they could never draw level.
Leona Archibold and Blundell were increasingly influential in the forward sector as the game progressed and with Rachel Dillon in charge at the back, Westmeath continued to add to their tally.
Natalie McHugh and top scorer Fleming cut the gap to the bare minimum with ten minutes remaining, but a free from Leanne Slevin meant Roscommon were unable to reduce the scoreboard margin.
“It’s a very hard one to take to be honest. I thought the girls were terrific, we did pretty much everything we wanted to do. It is tight margins, a few mistakes on our side cost us and we didn’t get the goals we needed on the other side, but that’s football.
“We did recover, the first goal went in and we scored four or five points on the trot, the second goal went in just before half time and we started the third quarter well.
“Westmeath are a good team, they were always going to take scores when the game opened up for them. The girls will find that one tough to get over because it definitely a game for the winning,” Roscommon manager, Michael Finneran, remarked, in his post match thoughts.