Leona Archibold’s early penalty helped put Westmeath on their way to victory. She is seen her in action against Louth’s Eimear Murray.

“I’m very happy getting a win” – Sean Finnegan

When it was initially put to Westmeath ladies football manager Sean Finnegan that his side had won comfortably against Louth in Ashbourne last Sunday afternoon, he responded: “There was nothing comfortable out there. It was a tough game.”

Expanding on his initial statement, he added: “We seemed to be a bit anxious and snatching at chances in the first half. There was a fair breeze and an eight-point lead didn’t seem a lot at half-time. But the goal very early in the second half settled us down into our normal rhythm again. Towards the end we were able to bring on subs and just run the game out. As I said to the Louth manager (Wayne Freeman) afterwards, they are a coming team and when they ran at us, they caused us problems. I’m just very happy getting a win here today. That’s what it’s all about.”

The general consensus among the handful or people present was that the tenth-minute penalty which Leona Archibold converted had come from a soft award. The winning bainisteoir concurred, as follows: “Sure, but we’ll take anything we can get like that. The penalty gave us a little bit of a cushion, but we kicked a lot of bad wides in the first half too. We probably felt we should have been more in front at half-time.

“We decided at half-time that we had to carry the ball. That actually suits us as we are a very strong and physical team with a lot of runners. Obviously, in the first play to get a goal just settles everybody down. The first score is always crucial when there is a big wind. And we were happy that we got it.”

Finnegan was very pleased with the contributions of relatively new players. He stated: “There were three or four girls there today playing only their second game, or their second game in years. Lorraine Duncan, for example, who was marking Kate Flood, did a magnificent job. Niamh Spellman, Aeysha Roche girls like that. Ciara Blundell coming back. Sarah McCormack coming on. All these girls are pushing everybody else. I know it’s a cliché, but when you have 15 to 30 on the training pitch pushing, everybody is working.”

Looking ahead briefly to the penultimate round, the manager opined: “They say that semi-finals are the worst games to play. We have only been taking it game by game. We will focus on Roscommon from tomorrow morning. We’re in the last four now and that’s where we expected to be.”

The red tape for participants and media personnel due to Covid-19 has been widely publicised as very stringent. However, Finnegan remained upbeat as he concluded: “Yes, it’s difficult. But I appreciate that we must do things safely. We’re privileged to be playing. To be here today rather than sitting at home is wonderful. So I don’t mind what the protocols are. It’s frustrating when you arrive and you have a queue two miles down the road, but we get on with it. It’s the same for everybody and we’re just so happy to be playing.”