Galway Ladies will enjoy a three-week break from competitive action to prepare for this season's 2019 TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship quarter-finals.
Tim Rabbitt's side sealed their place in the quarter-finals with a 2-13 to 1-3 victory over Westmeath at TEG Cusack Park.
The win ensured Galway, beaten semi-finalists last year, will finish on top of group tree of the All-Ireland qualifiers, following their round one victory over Kerry. Westmeath, who hit back with a goal through Nicole Feery in the second period, now need a win against Kerry next weekend to earn their passage to the knock-out stages.
Rabbitt was understandably satisfied with the result.
“We’re happy to grind out a victory, considering it was our fifth week in a row in action,” he said.
“The girls are physically and mentally tired. There is still a lot of work to do before the quarter-final in three weeks' time, but we’re happy to be there.”
Roisin Leonard bagged a crucial goal for Galway near the end of the first-half, and despite Nicole Feery striking back for Sean Finnegan’s side, Galway wrapped up the win thanks to a late goal from Leanne Coen.
In the early action both sides struggled to find their feet in Mullingar, but once Treacy Leonard fired Galway’s opening point in the sixth minute, they began to settle.
Sean Finnegan’s side responded well, and a Fiona Claffey point two minutes later soon had her side on parity again. The action continued to be tight with Galway captain Leonard and Leanne Slevin taking turns to raise the white flag, but then Galway took over and enjoyed a period of dominance that proved crucial.
The in-form Roisin Leonard gave Galway the lead after 20 minutes from a free on the left, but the key score of the game arrived four minutes from half-time. A fine move started in the Galway defence through Olivia Divilly and Sarah Conneally before Louise Ward set up Roisin Leonard to convert the opening goal.
Galway continued to dominate in the closing stages of the half with three unanswered points from Roisin Leonard, Conneally and Treacy Leonard giving the visitors a seven-point lead at the break, 1-6 to 0-2.
They continued after the restart with two excellent early scores from Nicola Ward and Treacy Leonard to push the lead to nine points, before Westmeath took advantage when Galway's Fabienne Cooney was yellow carded with a point from Sarah Dolan. Westmeath's hopes were heightened when a speculative long range shot from Nicole Feery deceived Galway goalkeeper Lisa Murphy and ended up in the back of the net, but Galway responded with two points from Roisin Leonard before finishing the game late on with a well-struck goal from substitute Coen.
Scorers: Galway: R Leonard 1-4 (3f ), T Leonard 0-4 (2f ), L Coen 1-0, O Divilly 0-2, S Conneally 0-1, N Ward 0-1, S Burke 0-1
Westmeath: N Feery 1-0, F Claffey 0-1, L Slevin 0-1 (1f ) S Dolan 0-1.
Galway: L Murphy; N Ward, S Burke, F Cooney; O Murphy, B Hannon, C Cooney; L Ward, Á McDonagh; O Divilly, M Glynn, M Seoighe; T Leonard, S Conneally, R Leonard. Subs: S Lynch for Hannon (26 ), L Coen for L Ward (h-t ), S Molloy for Cooney (h-t ), L Hannon for Glynn (40 ), M Coyne for McDonagh (58 ).
Westmeath: L McCormack; R Dillon, J Rogers, L Power; K Boyce Jordan, K McDermott, F Coyle; J Maher, MA Foley; S Dolan, A Jones, N Feery; L Slevin, F Claffey, V Carr. Subs: L Brennan for Dolan (41 ), B McNamee for Slevin (48 ), K Hegarty for Jones (58 ).
Referee: N McCormack (Laois ).