Downey hails Galway troops as Westmeath pay penalty
GALWAY 3-10 WESTMEATH 0-9 LADIES NFL DIVISION 2 FINAL
GALWAY will be playing top-flight football next year after beating Westmeath to secure promotion.
It was a case of third time lucky for the Galway girls, who lost Division 2 finals in 2012 and 2013, and their manager Barry Downey admitted that those defeats may have explained his team's nervous start in Parnell Park.
"We tried to deflect away from that as much as possible, but once the game opened up a bit we were able to kick on. I knew Westmeath would put us to the pin of our collar," he said.
"I told the girls this would be one of our toughest tests of the year, including championship.
"It is brilliant to be back in Division 1, and it is no less than the girls deserve after all the hard work they've put in."
Although they laboured to break Westmeath's resistance in the first half, Galway were the superior force after the break and having won nine games out of nine to reach this decider, they confidently kicked for home.
The crucial score of the first half was Galway's penalty scored by Annette Clarke in the 19th minute.
Louise Ward was put through on goal after a pass from Caitriona Cormican and was upended by Westmeath 'keeper Sarah Keegan, who was sin-binned.
Clarke dispatched the penalty past corner-back Triona Durkan, who stepped in as replacement 'keeper.
Roisin Leonard and Fiona Leavy hit four points apiece in the opening period, while Westmeath midfielder Johanna Maher was sin-binned in the sixth minute.
Leonard scored three points from play for Galway, while Leavy kept Westmeath in touch with three of her four scores from free-kicks.
Galway's Lorna Joyce also hit two points from play as the favourites led by 1-7 to 0-7 at the break.
Clarke converted a second penalty in the 44th minute, after Geraldine Conneally was fouled by Westmeath captain Aileen Martin, who was sin-binned.
Three minutes later, Galway got their third goal. Clarke turned provider for Barbara Hannon, who buried a low shot to the net to put her side 3-9 to 0-7 ahead.
Westmeath failed to score in the second half until the 51st minute, through a Leavy free. Johanna Maher landed their only other point of the half as Galway coasted to victory.
Scorers – Galway: A Clarke 2-1 (2-0 pens), B Hannon 1-1, R Leonard 0-4 (1f), L Joyce 0-3, C Cormican 0-1. Westmeath: F Leavy 0-5 (4fs); R Kearney, C Blundell, M Foley, J Maher 0-1.
GALWAY – J Connolly; N Ward, M Coyne, O Dixon; R McPhilbin, E Flaherty, S Burke (c); A Clarke, G Conneally; A Daly, C Cormican, L Ward; B Hannon, L Joyce, R Leonard. Subs: O Divilly for Joyce (37), E Gannon for Leonard (47), M Moloney for Burke (54), G O'Connor for Hannon (57), S Conneally for Dixon (57).
WESTMEATH – S Keegan; A Martin (c), R Dunne, T Durkan; J Rogers, A Giles, L Brennan; R Kearney, J Maher; C Blundell, M Foley, K McDermott; F Leavy, F Claffey, K Hegarty. Subs: C Kelly for McDermott (39), N Judge for Blundell (48), A Brady for Rogers (55), S Dolan for Leavy (57).
REF – G Corrigan (Down)