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West' awake as Dubs sink

DONAGHMORE ASHBOURNE had the red carpet out on Sunday lunchtime. It's just over the Dublin border. There's a touch of royalty about the club's stately home.

A charming stand and clubhouse, a fine, spacious pitch, good sound system and a big car-park. The All-Ireland Junior 'A' Championship final was highly organised.

Westmeath and Dublin attracted a big crowd. The counties put on a worthy show, and at the end of it, Westmeath took the chalice, 1-14 to 2-6.

A superior second half did the trick. The breeze was at their backs, and they hoisted their sails.

Dublin led at the break, 1-3 to 0-4. The Blues found it hard to create anything thereafter. The Westmeath defence excelled.

Eileen Murphy hit one drive down the fairway with all the might of Rory McIlroy.

And out the field, they had match-winners in Dinah Loughlin, Pamela Greville and Denise McGrath. McGrath has signed for Ballyboden St Enda's. Loughlin, a supreme striker of the ball, was voted the Player of the Match.

Three times they were level in the second period, but Westmeath always seemed to have the edge. Dublin were living off crumbs, but living quite well nonetheless.

It took four late successive strikes to ease the Lake County into port, and those points came in injury-time. Dublin's major asset was their captain, Elaine Gallery.

She is a superb stick-artist. She can make the sliotar talk. Once in the second half, she won possession out on the right sideline in front of the stand.

She was surrounded by the Airport Police and she lost her hurley, yet she still managed to nudge away a tidy hand-pass.

Gallery made Dublin's second goal, which was scored by Joelenne Hoary, who also scored their first on 15 minutes. The second goal, seven minutes after the restart, was especially needed as Westmeath's menace was growing.

Once again, Gallery collected the ball wide on the right before delivering a precise pass to Hoary who lost her marker and palmed to the sack, punching the air in the process. Dublin ahead by 2-3 to 0-5.

But chances after that for the Blues were extremely rare, although four minutes later, Gallery sent in another FedEx parcel for Hoary who nudged it to the net, but a square ball was called.

At that stage, Westmeath had levelled following a brilliant McGrath goal. And they finished on the up, finding space and finding the garden gate.

Greville and McGrath produced tasty scores. On the hour, Shauna Duff replied for the Dubs to leave just a point in it in favour of Westmeath.

But then came that crucial flurry of points from Joanne McCormack, Loughlin (2) and Greville. Disappointed Dubs didn't hang around for Afternoon Tea. Croke Park was calling.

WESTMEATH: F Keating (Cullion); S King (Delvin), J Egan (Lough Lene Gaels), E Murphy (Cullion); A Higgins (Lough Lene Gaels), A Conaty (Lough Lene Gaels), R Scally (Crookedwood); D Loughlin (Clonkill, 0-7, 4f, 1 45), M Scally (Crookedwood); P Greville (Raharney, 0-4, 1f), D McGrath (Ballyboden St Enda's, 1-1), A Fagan (Lough Lene Gaels); L O'Connor (Brownstown, 0-1), L Thompson (Cullion), J Walsh (Lough Lene Gaels). Subs: N Fagan (Lough Lene Gaels) for M Scally (ht); J McCormack (Castletown Geoghegan, 0-1) for Thompson (47); C Murtagh (Lough Lene Gaels) for O'Connor (54); L Hannon (Lough Lene Gaels) for R Scally (59).

DUBLIN: S Carthy (Naomh Mearnóg); G Free (Trinity Gaels), G Ryan (Na Fianna), C McGough (Kilmacud Crokes); E Sherry (St Jude's), S Duff (Good Counsel, 0-1), C Rigney (Lucan Sarsfields); N Drummond (Naomh Pádraig/Round Tower), C Canning (St Vincent's, 0-1); E Flanagan (Lucan Sarsfields), K Farrell (Good Counsel, 0-1), J Hoary (Lucan Sarsfields, 2-0); M Dunne (Crumlin), E Gallery (Portobello, 0-1f), R Collins (St Vincent's, 0-2). Sub: L Quinn (St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh) for Dunne (44).

REF: S McGuigan (Derry)