Hat-trick for Core in impressive win for Westmeath
Westmeath 4-11 Meath 2-7
Powered by an impressive second half display, a better-balanced Westmeath side – who never trailed throughout – maintained their interest in this year’s All-Ireland intermediate camogie championship with a very solid win against Meath in pleasant conditions at a well-attended Joristown last Saturday evening.
A tricky crossfield wind failed to prevent two well-drilled teams from producing a fine spectacle in the resplendent home of Raharney hurling, a location convenient for both sets of supporters. The home team led by just two points at the break. However, they looked the better team in the second moiety, at the start of which local girl Hannah Core completed a wonderful hat-trick to propel her team to a noteworthy win.
Sheila McGrath nudged Westmeath ahead after 40 seconds, and a fine team score finished by Hannah Core doubled their advantage with exactly three minutes on the clock. Abbye Donnelly halved the deficit in style some two minutes later, but a point apiece from Caoimhe McCrossan and Megan Dowdall (a 60-metre free) followed, either side of very steady net-minding by Fiona Keating – a feature of the contest.
The girls in green and gold equalized in the 11th minute, one of many long solo runs throughout the course of the game by Aoife Minogue teeing up Ciara Foley who duly whipped the sliotar to the net. Westmeath’s response was very impressive, however. Core responded with a well-taken goal under pressure, and she doubled her green flag tally in the next passage of play after great approach work by Dowdall, to put Westmeath ahead by 2-4 to 1-1 on the electronic scoreboard.
Keating denied Minogue at the other end, before a point exchange between Olivia O’Halloran and Denise McGrath (with Maggie Randall lucky to not to concede a goal when the ball slipped through her fingers). A few Westmeath attacks then came to nothing, and Brendan Skehan’s troops reduced the deficit with an acrobatic point from Foley at the end of a mishit free by Grace Coleman.
In the 23rd minute, another Minogue run set up Foley for a clinically-taken goal. Two more fine saves from Keating ensued as the losers piled on the pressure. Maria Kelly scored a fine individual point for the maroon and white-clad outfit. Coleman fired over a very good free on the half-hour mark. Sheila McGrath (a classy score) and Coleman (a routine free) traded points before the interval, leaving Westmeath ahead by 2-7 to 2-5 at the break.
Diarmuid Cahill’s charges increased their advantage within two minutes of the restart, Core finding the net after fine play by Muireann Scally. Indeed, a penalty would surely have resulted had Core not scored, as she had been unceremoniously taken out en route to goal. The winners then seemed lucky to have been awarded a free out in a scoreable position for their opponents, enabling the Lake County ladies to pull away somewhat during the remainder of the third quarter with a hat-trick of frees from the impressive Dowdall (the second a great long-range effort), and a scrambled goal by Denise McGrath in the 45th minute.
Westmeath now led by double-scores (4-10 to 2-5) and the final quarter was somewhat subdued, albeit the Royal County girls missed some good chances, much of that down to good defending by their opponents. Meath could only add a brace of points from placed balls to their tally – a Coleman ‘45’ in the 54th minute and a Minogue free in added-time. Westmeath rounded off the match scoring with a fine angled point from Amelia Shaw with time almost up.
Westmeath: H Core 3-1, D McGrath 1-1, M Dowdall 0-4 (4f), S McGrath 0-2, C McCrossan, M Kelly, A Shaw 0-1 each.
Meath: C Foley 2-1, G Coleman 0-3 (2f, 1‘45’), A Donnelly, O O’Halloran, A Minogue (f) 0-1 each.
Westmeath: Fiona Keating; Karen Gaffney, Julie McLoughlin, Emily McCabe; Aoife Doherty, Megan Dowdall, Laura Doherty; Aoife O’Malley, Muireann Scally; Sheila McGrath, Caoimhe McCrossan, Hannah Core; Maria Kelly, Denise McGrath, Amelia Shaw. Sub used: Elaine Finn for D McGrath (60+1).
Meath: Maggie Randall; Sophia Payne, Claire Coffey, Rachel O’Neill; Tracy King, Ellen Burke, Leah Devine; Grace Coleman, Aoife Minogue; Amy Gaffney, Aoibhin Lally, Olivia O’Halloran; Ciara Foley, Aoife Carey, Abbye Donnelly. Subs used: Emma O’Connell for Carey (36), Maeve Clinch for Devine (47), Nadine Doyle for Gaffney (50), Cliodhna O’Riordan for Coleman (55), Niamh Daly for O’Halloran (59).
Ref: Paul O’Neill (Antrim).