Finn wins it for Westmeath after Cavan collapse

CAPTAIN Elaine Finn kicked the winning point as Westmeath staged a remarkable fightback to win the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies IFC final replay against Cavan at Croke Park yesterday.

Westmeath’s victory was the county’s first All-Ireland ladies’ football crown and was secured in dramatic fashion as the team joint-managed by Peter Leahy and Alan Mangan came from five points behind to land the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup.

Sub Gráinne Smith’s 48th-minute goal handed Cavan a 1-8 to 0-6 advantage but that would prove to be the last score for the Ulster outfit.

In the final 10 minutes, Westmeath notched an unanswered 1-3 as Cavan collapsed following the sin-binning of wing-back Donna English with 11 minutes remaining.

Westmeath’s magnificent midfielder Maud Annie Foley began the comeback with a 50th-minute point before influential wing-back Laura Brennan stepped into the limelight.

Wing-forward Johanna Maher was fouled before she shot for goal and although Laura Walsh turned Maher’s effort into the Cavan net, referee Sean Joy whistled back for a Westmeath penalty.

Brennan held her nerve and coolly converted to cut the deficit back to just a point (1-7 to 1-8).

Sub Sarah Dolan shot the equaliser in the 54th minute before Finn stormed forward to land a 55th-minute winner.

At the end of a low-scoring first half, Cavan led by 0-4 to 0-3 but 19 minutes elapsed before Westmeath registered their first score of the game.

By then, Cavan, inspired by Aisling Doonan, had notched four points although Westmeath should have netted through Laura Walsh and Johanna Maher.

Scorers for Cavan: A Doonan 0-5 (4f); G Smith 1-1;, Claragh O’Reilly & D Clerkin 0-1 each.

Scorers for Westmeath: L Brennan 1-1 (1-0 pen); M A Foley 0-4 (1f); E Finn, L Walsh, F Claffey & S Dolan 0-1 each.

CAVAN: C McCutcheon; Ciara O’Reilly, G McGlade, C Kearns; R Murphy, P Crowe, D English; R Crowe, A Cornyn; R O’Keeffe, B Sheridan, E Costin; B Boylan, Claragh O’Reilly, A Doonan.

Subs: G Smith for Costin (h-t), D Clerkin for Boylan (45), C Gray for O’Keeffe (50).

WESTMEATH: G Leahy; A Martin, G Kearney, T Durkan; L Brennan, J Rogers, M Malone; M A Foley, E Finn; L Walsh, R Kearney, J Maher; J Byrne, K Hegarty, F Claffey.

Subs: K B Jordan for Byrne (h-t), E Morris for Hegarty (48), S Dolan for Kearney (50).

Referee: S Joy (Kerry).

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