Monday 22 July 2019

Ladies hit eight in a row

Dublin 4-11 Westmeath 1-7

Rory Kerr

Clann Mhuire's Oonagh Whyte hit two crucial goals at Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday as Dublin claimed their eighth successive provincial title.

However, they will be in a race to get their captain and current player of the year, Sinead Aherne, fit in time for their next game game after the St Sylvesters star popped her shoulder as she contested possession with Westmeath corner back Rachel Dillon eleven minutes into the game.

Aherne subsequently left the field, as did Westmeath's Sarah Dillon, who was also forced to retire hurt injured in a separate incident.

Nonetheless, both sides overcame these losses to produce an entertaining game of football which, despite the scoreline, was a lot closer in reality.

Indeed, Westmeath, having been on the receiving end of a number of heavy defeats to the metropolitans in past deciders, turned the form guide on its head to hold Dublin scoreless for the first fifteen minutes in the game.

Sarah Dillon had opened the scoring for Westmeath in the third minute before before Westmeath's Kelly Ann Boyce picked up the first yellow card of the game three minutes later.

But despite being down a player, Westmeath were not overly affected and up front they certainly troubled Dublin with their diminutive corner forward, Annie Dolan, giving the Dublin backs the run around.

And points and from Dolan and Leanne Slevin, who had come on for the injured Dillon, would bring Westmeath's lead out to three points before Dublin finally began to shake the cobwebs off what was at that stage a very shaky performance.

And with championship debutante Niamh Hetherton giving them a big height advantage inside, Dublin would win a free in front of the posts which Niamh McEvoy converted.

Sarah Dolan would point soon after for Westmeath at the other end before Noelle Healy, off a strong run down the right, would fist over from the right to half Westmeath's lead.

However, Dublin had eventually drawn level by the 26th minute courtesy of points from McEvoy and Sinead Golldrick before striking for the first of the their four goals with two minutes left of normal time.

Nicole Owens had played a ball into Whyte (club mate Carla Rowe missed out due to injury) and and she duly smashed the ball past the keeper.

Westmeath responded with successive frees from Slevin before Whyte showed clinical finishing for the second time to beat the keeper after McEvoy had squared the ball to her.

Dublin might have had a third only for Goldrick to blast wide and while McEvoy missed a free right on the half time hooter, Dublin still went in at the break with a 2-4 to 0-6 lead.

Westmeath, although playing against the breeze, got their second half off to a good start with a point from midfielder Maud Annie Foley before Rachel Dillon cut through the Dublin defens only to hit a weak shot at Ciara Trant.

Dublin would then lose Jennifer Dunne to a yellow card but kept the score board ticking along courtesy of a fine score from the whyte from the right following good transition play from Mick Bohan's charges.

However, Westmeath were then handed a lifeline after being awarded a penalty following a foul on Kelly Boyce Jordan. Slevin duly converted to leave just two points between the sides entering the final quarter.

However, Westmeath then had Johanna Maher sin binned with ten minutes to go and, shortly afterwards, Dublin, having landed a free through McEvoy, then netted their third goal when Owens showed terrific balance to shoot from the right hand side of the square.

That was the straw that would break Westmeath's back with Oonagh Whyte and Eabha Rutledge landing points before McEvoy took a pass of Caoimhe O'Connor to land Dublin's fourth goal on 59 minutes before the influential Owens and McEvoy landed their two scores in injury time.

Dublin now enter the All Ireland series which begins away to to beaten Munster finalists Waterford at the end of this month before taking on Monaghan at home on the bank holiday weekend in August.

Dublin: C Trant; M Byrne, N Collins, R Ruddy; A Kane, S Goldrick 0-1, L Magee; O Carey, S McGrath; N Owens 1-2, N McEvoy 1-4 (0-4f), O Whyte 2-2; S Aherne, N Hetherton, N Healy 0-1. Subs: J Dunne for Aherne (11), E Rutledge 0-1 for Ruddy (39), C O'Connor for Healy (50), O Nolan for McGrath (55), S Fagan for Goldrick (61)

Westmeath: L McCormack; R Dillon, J Rogers, N Feery; K Boyce Jordan, F Claffey, K McDermott; J Hanna Maher, M Annie Foley 0-1; V Carr, S Dolan 0-1 , L McCartan; A Dolan 0-1, A Jones, S Dillon 0-1. Subs: L Slevin 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-3f) for S Dillon (11), C Kelly for Dolan (41), L Power for R Dillon (57), K Hegarty for McCartan (63)

Referee: N. McCormack (Laoise)

Fingal Independent