WESTMEATH will play Antrim in the All-Ireland Minor B Championship Final after recording impressive Semi-Final victories.
The Lakesiders got the better of Laois by 1-14 to 0-6 in Birr’s St Brendan’s Park, while Charley McCarry plundered three-second half goals as Antrim prevailed over Carlow by 5-8 to 1-5 at Inniskeen.
Antrim have been making considerable strides in the underage scene in recent years, something that has also been illustrated at schools level. Indeed all their scorers in this outing came from a star-studded Loughgiel Shamrocks side that took Féile honours four years ago.
There was no hint of their impending dominance in the first half however, as the teams went in at the break on 1-4 apiece. Carlow had by far the better start, scoring three points from Ciara Kavanagh (two) and Tish Murphy.
Not for the first time, Róisín McCormick settled her team with a goal and she added a point, as did Anna Connolly and Ciara Laverty to push Antrim ahead. Carlow wrested the advantage back when Eve Lawler goaled, after Kavanagh had pointed from a free, but McCormick found the target from a placed ball to put them level at the break.
Carlow only managed one point in the second half however, whereas Antrim went goal crazy. Charley McCarry and Laverty raised green flags within nine minutes of the restart, and when McCarry swept home after Anna Connolly’s effort had been saved superbly by Laura Bermingham, it was all over at the three-quarter mark.
McCormick added four second-half points to bring her personal tally to 1-6 and McCarry completed her hat-trick right on the hour.
Westmeath justified favouritism in their penultimate round, with a team containing a handful of established Intermediate players taking on a side made up predominantly of the squad that represented Laois at U16 level last year.
The Maroons had a clear strength advantage and they possessed significantly greater scoring power too. But for the heroics of Éadaoin Lowry, the margin would have been much more as the Laois netminder made a series of outstanding saves.
Westmeath had point scorers everywhere though and ended with five multiple providers. Síle McGrathand Ciara O’Looney contributed four points each, while Eva Balse, Megan Dowdall and Lucy Power all had a brace. Hannah Corr ensured that the forwards never wanted for supply.
The goal from Laura Kilcoyne arrived mid-way through the latter period and it was needed, as Laois, driven on by Clodagh Tynan and Áine Cuddy, had cut the margin to seven, having gone in at the interval trailing by 0-11 to 0-2.
Tynan, Alice Walsh, Shona Jones, Amy Collier all got on the scoresheet, and Kirsten Keenan finished with two points for Laois but the day belonged to Westmeath.