By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Cork 0-8 Westmeath 1-4
Cork managed to reverse their group defeat to Westmeath to win the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 2 title for the second year in a row today.
It went down to the wire however, as Pamela Greville’s 24th-minute goal from a 20m free gave the Lakesiders real hope, having fallen five points behind earlier.
The Raharney sharpshooter followed up with a pointed free from the next attack to reduce the gap to the minimum but try as they might, Westmeath could not find the equaliser, as Cork defended magnificently in those last eight minutes or so of action.
The game was a cagey one throughout, to the extent that while Westmeath only managed a point in the opening period, despite the ongoing threat of Sheila McGrath up front, they still trailed by just three at the break.
Their score came from a Greville free in the 10th minute, after Caroline Sugrue had opened the scoring for the Rebels.
The emphasis was very much on not conceding at both ends and Fiona Leavy was outstanding for Westmeath but Cork created more opportunities, Katelyn Hickey, Keeva McCarthy and Rachel O’Shea (free) giving them a 0-4 to 0-1 interval lead.
McCarthy was very unlucky not to add a goal but her effort struck the crossbar and Westmeath were able to clear.
Johnny Greville’s charges continued to battle hard but Cork possessed just that little bit more scoring power – Westmeath failed to score from play – while Aoife Kavanagh and Rachel O’Shea were among the Cork attackers showing a voracious appetite for work to prevent Westmeath’s half-back line sending quality ball towards their forwards.
Sugrue and Greville exchanged scores but when McCarthy (45) and substitute Kate Wall found the target, they were in a strong position. And though Greville found the target from another free, Hickey’s second point restored what was a healthy advantage in the context of this game. It was difficult to imagine that Westmeath could turn it around.
They are a tenacious bunch however and redoubled their efforts, keeping Cork scoreless for the remainder of the game and almost reeling their opponents in.
The defeat is a bitter disappointment for Westmeath, particularly for the likes of McGrath, Hannah Core and Megan Dowdall, who were part of the unlucky unit that lost the All-Ireland Minor B Final on Saturday to an injury-time goal.
They will be buoyed by reaching the decider and their performance in it however, as they look to a first campaign in the Intermediate Championship, having won the All-Ireland Premier Junior title last September.
The silverware was headed Leeside for the second consecutive season though and that will be a boost too for Paudie Murray’s crew, as they look to go one step further in the second tier Championship, having lost the last two Finals.
For now though, they will enjoy a deserved success.
SCORERS FOR CORK: C Sugrue, K Hickey, K McCarthy (1 45) 0-2 each; R O’Shea (f), K Hickey, K Wall 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR WESTMEATH: P Greville 1-4(fs)
CORK: A Lee, L Weste, S Harrington, N O’Callaghan, S Hutchinson, J Barry, Katie McCarthy, L Callanan, S Buckley, R O’Shea, K Hickey, A Kavanagh, Keeva McCarthy, R O’Callaghan, C Sugrue. Subs: K Wall for McCarthy (44), R Keane for Sugrue (60)
WESTMEATH: F Keating, S King, A Higgins, L Doherty, A Cully, F Leavy, Sandra McGrath, C McCrossan, M Scally, M McCormack, D McGrath, M Dowdall, M Scally, P Greville, Sheila McGrath. Sub: H Core for McCrossan (31)
REFEREE: J McDonagh (Galway)