| 11.7°C Dublin

dubs dig deep to escape lake

NO need for the Sat Nav last Sunday. The Jackies know every piece of furniture in Netwatch Cullen Park.

They won their 11th Leinster title at the Carlow venue, and their fourth in-a-row. Westmeath have two Leinster titles on their CV, the last one coming in 1995.

They brought a big support with them. And they had inside knowledge.

Niall Williams is their manager. He served Na Fianna. So did one of his managerial colleagues, Nadine Doherty, the girl from Donegal.

Fiona Claffey played at centre half-back. She plays for Foxrock Cabinteely, and she was facing some of her team-mates.


Claffey gave a fantastic performance. Time and again, she set off from deep on a lung-buster.

The Westmeath centre-forward, Johanna Maher, also put in the hard yards. Often coming deep to gather up the crumbs.

Their full-forward, Maud Annie Foley, made a generous donation to the cause.

The Lake County had progressed to the final through the new provincial round-robin structure.

They are a team on the rise. And they are sure to give the Qualifiers a rattle.

Their captain, Jennifer Rogers, would like to meet Katie Taylor. Westmeath's fight here was a major factor in the best Leinster final in many a long day.

"We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game," remarked Dublin manager, Greg McGonigle.

"Westmeath are a decent side. People probably underestimated them. They put Mayo to the pin of their collar last year. We missed many chances, and that helped to keep them in it. And the sin-binning in the second half was also a turning point."

It was Maher who received the yellow card with 14 minutes to go. Westmeath's recovery was at its height at that stage as they trailed Dublin by just two points.

The comeback generated a cracking atmosphere on a humid afternoon that saw three Leinster finals on stage.

The whiff of a breeze slightly ruffled the colourful Carlow sideline flags.

Dominic Leech was on sound. He did a top job. He kept everybody up to date from all the happenings in the world of sport.

At half-time came the news that the man from Greystones, Paul Dunne, was leading the Open.

At that stage, the Dubs were ahead by 1-7 to 0-4. They had baskets of possession. But also a sackful of wides.

Remarkably, Westmeath didn't hit a wide until 11 minutes from time.

Dublin's 19th goal came from the captain, Lyndsey Davey. It was created by a superb piece of fielding from Niamh McEvoy.

Three times in the hour, Lyndsey saw strikes come back off the iron-work.

The Blues were bouncing from the off. There was power and purpose in their movement.

It was hard going for Westmeath, who were seven points behind midway through the half.

But they held on tight. Chipping away at the deficit.

All that Westmeath's revival lacked was a goal. Foley hit four points without reply as the second period took flight.

Dublin's first score of the restart didn't come until 26 minutes in. A welcome free from the skipper.

McEvoy palmed in Dublin's second goal late on. And they would have had a couple of more goals only for brilliant saves from Sarah Keegan to deny Nicole Owens and Davey.

Scorers - DUBLIN: L Davey 1-1 (0-1f), N McEvoy 1-0, S Goldrick, C Rowe (2f) 0-3 each, N Healy 0-2, K Flood, N Owens, N Rickard 0-1 each. WESTMEATH: M Foley 0-8 (6f), J Maher 0-2, E Morris 0-1.

DUBLIN: C Trant; O Carey, M Ní Scanaill, F Hudson; S Goldrick, S Finnegan, C Barrett; M Lamb, S McCaffrey; N Healy, K Flood, C Rowe; A Connolly, L Davey, N McEvoy. SUBS: N Owens for McCaffrey (38); S Furlong for Carey (inj, 50); N Rickard for Flood (51); H Noonan for Connolly (62).

WESTMEATH: S Keegan; T Durkan, J Rogers, A Martin; N Spellman, F Claffey, L Brennan; K McDermott, E Morris; K Hegarty, J Maher, C Blundell; F Leavy, M Foley, S Dolan. SUBS: K Boyce-Jordan for McDermott (45); L Kiernan for Blundell (56); C Kelly for Dolan (63).

MANAGEMENT TEAMS - DUBLIN: G McGonigle, D Burke, B McNulty, K Colreavy, R Boyne, D Cassidy, P Kennedy, L Hogan. WESTMEATH: N Williams, N Doherty, P Christie, M Walsh, A Dermody, C Brady, E Fox.

REF: J Murphy (Carlow).

CONDITIONS: Bright and mild.

WIDES - DUBLIN: 15 (11+4); WESTMEATH: 3 (0+3).

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Sinead Goldrick (Dublin).