Saturday 23 September 2017

Foley ensures replay for 'stubborn' Lake County

Cavan 0-15 Westmeath 2-9

Aishling Sheridan of Cavan in action against Rachel Dillon of Westmeath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Aishling Sheridan of Cavan in action against Rachel Dillon of Westmeath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Westmeath manager Stephen Maxwell hailed his team as the "hardest-working" in the country as the Lake County salvaged a draw from their Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 2 final with Cavan.

Westmeath came from four points down to claim a replay with the Breffni girls, who were five points up in both halves.

Leona Archibald of Westmeath in action against Rachel Doonan of Cavan. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Leona Archibald of Westmeath in action against Rachel Doonan of Cavan. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Maud-Annie Foley popped over the equaliser to ensure that Westmeath avoided a final defeat for the third time in four seasons.

Maxwell said: "We're not too disappointed. Cavan got out of jail in the last few minutes. We'll go again. We always knew we were going to finish strong and we knew Cavan couldn't do what they did in the first-half for the 60 minutes.

"A bit more patience in front of goal and it's our day the next day. This is the hardest-working team in the country, the stubbornness in the team is fantastic and there was no panic on the line or on the pitch."

Westmeath have been knocking hard at the promotion door, but lost out to Galway in 2014 and Donegal last year.

Mona Sheridan of Cavan in action against Maud Annie Foley of Westmeath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Mona Sheridan of Cavan in action against Maud Annie Foley of Westmeath. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

On the balance of play, however, Cavan will look back on this final as one that got away.

Both teams will do it all again next weekend for the right to play top-flight football next year and while Cavan looked to have the edge in the overall exchanges, two goals from Ciara Blundell at crucial times kept Westmeath in touch.

The Lake County also showed real resilience down the home straight to force a draw, as full-back Amie Giles was sin-binned with 12 minutes remaining.

Cavan looked to have put the game to bed when they established a four-point lead at 0-15 to 1-8.

Rachel Dillon of Westmeath in action against Neasa Dyrd of Cavan. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Rachel Dillon of Westmeath in action against Neasa Dyrd of Cavan. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

However, there was still plenty of time for Westmeath to rally and Blundell's second goal, with nine minutes left, brought them back to within a point.

In the 57th minute Foley took charge of matters to score the leveller and ensure a second day out.

Cavan were the better side in the first-half, registering six wides, but also eight points, while Westmeath had 1-2 on the board by the interval.

With Aisling Doonan scoring a couple of cracking early points, Cavan built a solid platform and led 0-6 to 0-1 within 14 minutes.

However, Blundell finished a fine team move for a crucial Westmeath goal on 14 minutes and they held firm from there until the break.

Rebecca Dunne of Westmeath in action against Caitriona Smith of Cavan. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Rebecca Dunne of Westmeath in action against Caitriona Smith of Cavan. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Cavan boss Aidan McCabe reflected: "When you're leading from the start and you don't win, you're a bit disappointed. But 75 to 80 per cent of the good attacking football was played by us. We left a couple of scores behind, but if it takes us another 60 minutes, it takes us another 60 minutes."

Scorers - Cavan: A Doonan 0-7 (5f), C Smith, C O'Reilly (1f) 0-2 each, M Sheridan, S Greene, D English, A Sheridan 0-1 each. Westmeath: C Blundell 2-0, K McDermott, M A Foley, J Maher, L Archibald (2f) 0-2 each, F Claffey 0-1.

Cavan: E Walsh; R Doonan, A Cornyn, M Sheridan; S Greene, L Fitzpatrick, S Reilly; S O'Sullivan, D English; C Smith, A Rooney, N Byrd; A Sheridan, C O'Reilly, A Doonan. Subs: G Smith for Rooney (43), S Lynch for R Doonan (46), R Jordan for Byrd (49).

Westmeath: K Walsh; R Dillon, A Giles, A Martin; F Coyle, R Dunne, L Brennan; K McDermott, M A Foley; F Claffey, L Archibald, K Boyce-Jordan; L McCartan, L Walsh, C Blundell. Subs: J Maher for Boyce-Jordan (36), L Slevin for Brennan (41), C Kelly for Maher (60).

Ref - S Mulvihill (Kerry).

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