Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Division 2 Final
Sunday April 29th
Cork v Westmeath
St. Lachtain's GAA, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny @ 2pm
THIS is a new pairing at this level of Camogie, with Westmeath appearing in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Division 2 Final for the first time in 35 years. The Lakesiders lost to Dublin in 1983 and gradually slipped down the pecking order subsequently.
In time, a new crop of players came through as a result of rededicated endeavours at underage level, and after losing the Division 4 Finals in 2009 and 2010 to Kildare and Tyrone, they prevented an undesirable three-in-a-row by accounting for Cavan in the 2011 decider.
Three years later, Westmeath bagged the honours in Division 3 and are now back in the Division 2 decider after a lengthy absence. They do so too as All-Ireland Premier Junior champions and regardless of what happens against Cork, will be in good order as they face into the Intermediate Championship.
The Rebels are defending champions, having strolled to victory over Derry last year. Many of those players are still around and possess the added experience of performing in Croke Park in the last two All-Ireland Intermediate Finals, even if they lost to Kilkenny in 2016 and Westmeath’s neighbours Meath after a replay last season.
The likes of Amy Lee, Lauren Callanan and Jennifer Barry have Senior experience, while Caroline Sugrue, Katelyn Hickey and inspirational skipper Sarah Harrington are key operators too in Paudie Murray’s side.
Harrington and Callanan excelled in the Leesiders’ defence in the first-half of their Semi-Final win over Kilkenny before the forwards were able to open up with a strong wind at their backs in the second period.
For Westmeath, Pamela Greville is the dangerwoman, her 2-4 in the penultimate round triumph over Dublin just a continuation of her heroics for many years in the maroon jersey.
This is far from a one-player outfit however. Denise McGrath, Laura Doherty, who won a Soaring Star in her debut year last term, and young duo Sheila McGrath and Hannah Core, vital contributors on the Westmeath team that qualified for the All-Ireland Minor B Final 24 hours before the League Semi-Final and who will be involved in that decider on Saturday, are just some of those expected to take the fight to Cork.
Westmeath already have the tonic of a win over Cork in the group stages, Greville scoring 1-7 of her side’s 1-10 as they prevailed by a goal at the beginning of the month to top the table. There won’t be too much in it either way on this occasion either.