By Daragh Ë Conch·ir
Armagh produced a stirring second half performance to consign a couple of years’ heartbreak to history with a deserved victory in the replay of the All-Ireland junior A camogie final in association with RT+ Sport at Donaghmore Ashbourne.
The Orchard County girls lost the last two finals and were in arrears for much of the drawn decider two weeks ago, needing a Bernie Murray equaliser to gain another crack at the title.
They made no mistake this time around, upping the tempo significantly after the break when the sides went in level.
The efforts of Murray and the outstanding Niamh McGeown were central to this development, as they gained the upper hand around midfield and drove their team forward.
Ciara Donnelly gave the winners a dream start when finding the net in the very first minute of the game but Westmeath responded with a goal from Caitriona Murtagh mid-way through the half. They lost the influential Lorraine Leavy with a leg injury that necessitated her removal to hospital however and that loss was keenly felt.
Scores from Colette McSorley, Michelle McGuigan and Brid O’Hagan pushed Armagh three points clear again but Dinah Loughlin’s goaled free seven minutes from half time enabled the Lakesiders to gain parity on a 1-6 to 2-3 scoreline.
Armagh flew out of the traps after the restart with five points inside 11 minutes courtesy of Katie O’Brien, Joanne Mallon, McGuigan, McSorley and Murray. It could have been even worse for Westmeath, as McSorley’s point came from a penalty.
The sharpshooter put the disappointment of that wasted opportunity behind her in stunning fashion by bagging a brace of goals in the final quarter to put Armagh out of Westmeath’s range.
The Maroons never stopped trying though but while Pamela Greville’s goal from a free three minutes from time was some reward for their efforts, the glory was Armagh’s.
Scorers – Armagh: C McSorley 2-4; C Donnelly 1-0; K O’Brien, B O’Hagan, M McGuigan 0-2 each; J Mallon, A McAlinden, B Murray 0-1 each
Westmeath: D Loughlin 1-3; C Murtagh, P Greville 1-0 each; M Scally, S Greville 0-1 each