Westmeath ladies banished the memories of losing two recent league finals when they recorded a comprehensive victory over Cavan in the Division 2 final replay in Birr last Sunday.
This is a remarkable achievement for the Lake County who plied their trade in Division 4 only six years ago. Since then, Westmeath have been on an impressive journey to success. They bagged the Division 3 title in 2012 and over the following years, they lost out to Galway (2014) and Donegal (2016) in two Division 2 finals.
Last Sunday’s final replay against Cavan was their third chance to gain promotion to Division One and on this occasion they didn’t come up short. Westmeath signalled their intent early on with scoring ace Leona Archibold leading the way for the Lake County.
Archibold terrorised the Cavan defence all afternoon, bagging an impressive 1-6 over the course of a one-sided affair and, in doing so, picked up the player of the match award.
Speaking after their 13-point victory over close rivals Cavan, Westmeath captain Lauralee Walsh was delighted with the performance.
“It’s great to finally get over the line. It’s been a long time coming and we got our just reward for all the hard work and commitment that was not only put in this year, but over the last number of years,” Walsh remarked.
“We are delighted to have finally achieved promotion. It has been in our sights for so long now so to have finally have secured it is very pleasing.”
The Glasson native continued: “We knew last week that we left a lot out on the pitch, we were off the pace and in fairness to Cavan, they hit us hard and they hit us early.
“We were thankful to get the draw (the first day). That gave us another opportunity to redeem ourselves and show everyone what we are really about. It was a complete team performance. The girls really were on their game.
“Karen Walsh pulled off two cracking saves. Our defence chased down every breaking ball and our midfield and forward line converted almost every opportunity that came their way.
“From the very first minute, we squeezed them high and we squeezed them early.
“We knew every attack would count especially in the first half when we held wind advantage, so it was important from our point on view to make the most of it.”
“From our perspective, it was all about boxing clever and making sure we won all the breaking ball in the second half.
Our game plan worked really well and all the girls made a huge contribution to the result,” added Lauralee.
Wing-forward Fiona Claffey also praised the effort of her team-mates. The former Kilbeggan player said it’s important that Westmeath now use promotion to Division 1 as a building process.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have finally gained promotion to Division 1 football. After coming up short, this means so much to everyone involved, we really need to be in Division 1 in order to push on at senior level,” said Fiona.
“This is a huge step for Westmeath ladies football, there’s a few of us here that has started off in Division 4… so for us to secure the elusive Division one status is brilliant for the county.”