The Dromina, Co Cork native who was awarded a Nicky Rackard Cup All-Star award with his adopted county in 2011, revealed he’d played his last game of inter-county hurling on a weekend when Exiles’ manager Eamonn Phelan announced he was quitting his post to return to Ireland — a decision he said he made long before Saturday’s game.
A goal from Brendan Murtagh on 50 minutes proved the decisive score for Westmeath as London squandered 11 first-half chances.
Finn had corrected London’s wayward shooting with three quick frees before the interval and while the Exiles led 0-7 to 0-6 at the break, the momentum was turning.
The stiff breeze that favoured the Exiles in the first half was seized upon by Derek McNicholas, Robbie Greville and Murtagh as those missed opportunities returned to haunt the hosts.
“We just weren’t good enough today,” said Finn who won a Christy Ring Cup with the Exiles in 2012. “We missed too many opportunities and that’s my last game for London. It would have been nice to get a win in the Liam McCarthy,” said the 33- year-old, “but it wasn’t to be. I’ve had some great days with London but the injuries are catching up now.”
Finn’s sentiments were echoed by his manager.
“I enjoyed my time and I’m disappointed to be going,” said Kilkenny native, Phelan. “We lost three games this year and we lost two in the Liam McCarthy but we’ve had way more success than we’ve had defeats and we’ve played some good teams. In my three years of management, we’ve won a trophy each year and over here with the players and everything, it’s a major achievement.”
Westmeath were more clinical and had the outstanding player on the pitch in Derek McNicholas. He hit 10 points, with seven coming from placed balls. “It looked like it was going to go down to the wire and the goal certainly helped,” said Westmeath manager Brian Hanley. “Our discipline was very good and I’m very happy with that and full of optimism for the future”.
He added: “It was a potential banana skin coming over here but we performed well.”
LONDON: D Russell; C McAlinden, B Costelloe, D Healy; B Healy, B Regan, J Walsh (0-1); PJ Rowe (0-1) (Martin Duggan 62, 0-1), H Vaughan (E Cooney 69); S Lambert (0-1), J Maher, D Maher (Luke Hands 39); M Finn (0-5, 3f), Tony Dunne (Stephen Frawley half time), D Reale (0-2).
WESTMEATH: P Collins; L Varley (T Egan 42), T Gallagher, P Fennell; D Fennell, A McGrath, A Price; E Price, J Clarke (Shane Power 67); B Murtagh (1-1), A Craig (A Clarke 45) , D McNicholas (0-10, 7f); N O’Brien, R Greville (0-3, 1f), J Shaw (0-1) (B O’Mara 69).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).