Dublin land fourth Leinster women’s football title in a row
The sin binning of Johanna Maher proved costly for Westmeath
Player-of-the-match Sinead Goldrick, excellent in the Dublin half-back line. Photograph: Inpho
Dublin 2-12 Westmeath 0-11
Gregory McGonigle’s Dublin have captured a fourth successive TG4 Leinster ladies senior football crown – but not without a stern test from pre-match underdogs Westmeath.
Westmeath were eight points down in the first half but rallied to within two as Dublin went scoreless in the second half until 10 minutes from time. A sin-binning for Westmeath’s influential centre half forward Johanna Maher couldn’t have come at a worse possible time and while the Tyrrellspass player was off the pitch, Dublin hit an unanswered 1-3 to move clear of danger.
Maher, along with free-taker Maud Annie Foley, was one of Westmeath’s better players as they came thundering back into contention. Captain Lyndsey Davey finally opened Dublin’s second-half account with a free before Noelle Healy pointed and Niamh McEvoy followed up with a goal that killed the game.
After good work from Davey and substitute Nicole Owens, McEvoy palmed the ball home at the far post for Dublin’s second goal.
Player-of-the-match Sinead Goldrick, excellent in the half-back line, kicked her third point and Dublin were 2-10 to 0-8 clear and with real breathing space again. With Westmeath back to their full compliment of 15 players, they rallied again with a Maher free before Emma Morris rattled a shot off the crossbar.
But Dublin, who led by 1-7 to 0-4 at half-time, were able to keep their opponents at arm’s length down the home straight to progress to the last eight of the All-Ireland series.
Dublin, beaten All-Ireland finalists last year, will know that vast improvement is needed if they’re to challenge for the Brendan Martin Cup later in the season. They looked good for spells in the first half but Westmeath’s comeback was spirited as they managed to break through a massed Dublin defence for scores.
Dublin, who finished with 15 wides, were 0-4 to 0-0 clear before Westmeath got off the mark midway through the first half, Foley on target with the first of her eight points. But the winners back on track from their next attack, with Davey profiting from McEvoy’s unselfishness to palm the ball to the net.
Dublin’s biggest lead of the first half was eight points – 1-8 to 0-2 – before scores from Maher, a superb individual effort, and Foley kept Westmeath in touch at the break.
Westmeath also had goalkeeper Sarah Keegan to thank for some good saves throughout, while Dublin were also denied by the woodwork on a number occasions as they went hunting for scores.
DUBLIN: C Trant; O Carey, M Ni Scanaill, F Hudson; S Goldrick (0-30, S Finnegan, C Barrett; M Lamb, S McCaffrey; N Healy (0-2), K Flood (0-1), C Rowe (0-3); A Connolly, L Davey (1-1, 0-1 frees), N McEvoy (1-0). Subs: N Owens (0-1) for McCaffrey (37 mins), S Furlong for Carey (45 mins), N Rickard (0-1) for Flood (49 mins), H Noonan for Connolly (55 mins).
WESTMEATH: S Keegan; T Durkan, J Rogers, A Martin; N Spellman, F Claffey, L Brennan; K McDermott, E Morris (0-1); K Hegarty, J Maher (0-2), C Blundell; F Leavy, MA Foley (0-8, seven frees), S Dolan. Subs: K Boyce-Jordan for McDermott (41 mins), L Kiernan for Blundell (50 mins), C Kelly for Dolan (56 mins).
Referee: J Murphy (Carlow).