Finn puts finishing touch to brilliant Westmeath revival
Westmeath 1-9 Cavan 1-8
CAPTAIN Elaine Finn kicked the winning point as Westmeath staged a superb late fightback to win their replay against Cavan yesterday.
Westmeath -- joint-managed by Peter Leahy and Alan Mangan -- landed the county's first All-Ireland ladies football crown in the most dramatic fashion, as they stormed back from five points behind to lift the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup.
Sub Grainne Smith's 48th-minute goal gave Cavan a 1-8 to 0-6 lead, but that proved to be the last score of the game for the Ulster outfit.
In the final 10 minutes, Westmeath notched an unanswered 1-3 as Cavan completely fell apart following the sin-binning of influential wing-back Donna English with 11 minutes left.
Huge gaps opened up in the Cavan defence and Westmeath took full advantage as their strong running game exposed chinks in the Breffni armour.
Cavan also had Brid Boylan sin-binned in the 35th minute but held their own during the 10 minutes when the corner-forward was off the pitch.
The loss of English, however, proved difficult to cope with and after Westmeath's magnificent midfielder Maud Annie Foley began the fightback with a 50th-minute point, wing-back Laura Brennan played her part two minutes later.
Strong-running wing-forward Johanna Maher was fouled before she shot for goal and although Laura Walsh turned Maher's effort into the Cavan net, referee Sean Joy whistled back for a Westmeath penalty.
Brennan held her nerve and slotted home to cut the deficit back to a single point -- 1-8 to 1-7. Sub Sarah Dolan shot the equaliser in the 54th minute before Finn stormed forward to land a 55th-minute winner.
Cavan, who scored just 1-4 from play, searched desperately for an equaliser but Westmeath held firm.
Scorers --Westmeath: L Brennan 1-1 (1-0 pen), MA Foley 0-4 (1f), E Finn, L Walsh, F Claffey, S Dolan 0-1 each. Cavan: A Doonan 0-5 (4f), G Smith 1-1, Claragh O'Reilly, D Clerkin 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH -- G Leahy; A Martin, G Kearney, T Durkan; L Brennan, J Rogers, M Malone; M.A. Foley, E Finn; L Walsh, R Kearney, J Maher; J Byrne, K Hegarty, F Claffey. Subs: KB Jordan for Byrne (h-t), E Morris for Hegarty (48), S Dolan for Kearney (50).
CAVAN -- C McCutcheon; Ciara O'Reilly, G McGlade, C Kearns; R Murphy, P Crowe, D English; R Crowe, A Cornyn; R O'Keeffe, B Sheridan, E Costin; B Boylan, Claragh O'Reilly, A Doonan.
Subs: G Smith for Costin (h-t), D Clerkin for Boylan (45), C Gray for O'Keeffe (50).
Ref -- S Joy (Kerry).