A hat-trick of goals from Joanne Walsh and a player of the match performance by Pamela Greville ended Westmeath’s Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 4 final heartbreak, although they were pushed all the way by Cavan at Donaghmore/Ashbourne.
The Lakesiders had lost the last two deciders to Kildare and Tyrone and were favourites to finally get their hands on the trophy, but the memory of those previous losses, and the negative experiences had to be overcome, just as much as an energetic Cavan unit.
The sides had only been separated by a goal earlier in the year, so there was never likely to be a whole lot between them and it was the Ulster team that had the better of the early exchanges, aided by a strong breeze.
They spurned a number of scoring opportunities though and will have been very disappointed to go in at the interval trailing by a point, 2-2 to 1-4.
R¾isÝn O’Keeffe’s pace and direct running created a lot of problems for Westmeath in that opening period and for sections of the second, and having wasted one early opportunity, she got Cavan off the mark from 30m in the third minute.
Walsh hit back immediately though with a clinical finish to the Cavan net after good work by Janette McCormack and only a brilliant hook by Elaine P O’Reilly denied McCormack a major a minute later.
Cavan settled down but O’Keeffe’s 15th minute penalty was well saved by Fiona Keating. The Breffni team’s most experienced player Marie Brady, showed some good skill to goal two minutes later however and they led by two points with half time approaching, only for Greville to pounce just before the break to give Westmeath the half time advantage.
Points from Dinah Loughlin (free) and Greville stretched that lead to a goal but then Brady struck for her second goal in the 38th minute, after a brilliant move involving MairÚad McCable, Siobhßn Reynolds, Elain M O’Reilly and O’Keeffe. The latter’s shot was held by Keating but Brady was in quickly to block her attempted clearance and the sides were level again.
Walsh nabbed her second goal eight minutes later though after the hitherto outstanding Cavan ækeeper Jenny O’Rourke failed to gather possession. Walsh completed her hat-trick five minutes from time, slotting home after Greville’s ground shot hit the butt of the post to put two goals in it.
O’Rourke came forward to take a late free but her shot was too high and though Grßinne Smith added another point, it was too little too late for Cavan.
Westmeath: F Keating; S King, S Greville, E Martin; L Shaw, A Conaty, E Murphy; D Loughlin 0-1(f), E Faughnan; J Walsh 3-0, P Greville 1-4, D McGrath 0-1; L Leavy, J McCormack, C Murtagh. Subs: M Scally for Faughnan (ht); L Hannon for King (ht); L Newman for Shaw (60); S O’Neill for McCormack (60)
Cavan: J O’Rourke 0-1(f); S Brady, N Brady, EP Reilly; A Smith, M McCabe, R Crowe; A Lynch, S Reynolds; T O’Reilly 0-1, EM O’Reilly, B Boylan; B Lynch 0-1, R O’Keeffe 0-2, M Brady 2-2(0-1 45, 0-1f). Subs: G Smith 0-1 for O’Reilly (49); S McKenna for Brady (50); C Fitzpatrick for EM Reilly (58)
Referee: D Ryan (Dublin)