Galway 3-10 Westmeath 0-9
Galway’s third successive Ladies NFL final finally ended in triumph today after a resounding victory over Westmeath at Parnell Park.
The westerners returned to Division One in a blaze of glory following an impressive display of attacking football.
Annette Clarke netted two penalties, and a third goal from Barbara Hannon added a gloss to a dominant display.
Westmeath lost midfielder Johanna Maher to the sin bin after six minutes.
The sides were level at that stage, but with the numerical advantage, the Connacht side eased ahead with scores from Lorna Joyce, Roisin Leonard and Barbara Hannon.
Westmeath kept in touch through Fiona Leavy, who kicked a couple of delightful scores, and on her return to the action, Maher almost had a goal, but here shot came back off the angle of crossbar and post.
Karen Hegarty troubled the Galway defence with her pace, winning the free that Leavy converted to narrow the gap to a single point.
A second Galway player went to the bin in the 20th minute, goalkeeper Sarah Keegan sanctioned for hauling down Louise Ward and conceding a penalty.
Confusion reigned for some time over who would stand up to Annette Clarke’s kick, Triona Durkan eventually assigned to the task, but she was given no chance with a powerful finish.
Another change saw Jenny Rogers become the Leinster side’s third ‘keeper, and the westerners eased into a five points lead with a second point for Lorna Joyce.
They also lost a player to the sin bin when corner forward Leonard saw yellow, and Westmeath closed the gap through Maud Annie Foley, Ciara Blundell and Ruth Foley.
Galway led by 1-7 to 0-7 at the break, and in a low-scoring third quarter, the pushed further ahead when Clarke sent Joyce through for her third score.
But the westerners were wearing down their opponents, their ability to hold possession through confident ball-players Rebecca McPhilbin, Geraldine Conneally and Louise Ward helping them to gain control in the vital sectors.
They had their opponents pinned back inside their own 45 for some time before the Westmeath defence eventually gave way, conceding two goals in the space of three minutes.
Conneally’s driving run into the danger area saw her brought down by goalkeeper Keegan, and up stepped Clarke to drill home her second penalty of the game.
And in the 49th minute, Conneally made yet another surge, before unselfishly offloading to Hannon for a neat finish to the net.
Westmeath responded with conviction, and following a goalmouth scramble, Fiona Claffey fired a shot against a post as the Galway defence lived dangerously.
Leavy and Maher pulled back scores, but they had too much to do, and a Galway defence that had Mairead Coyle, Emer Flaherty and skipper Sinead Burke performing admirably ensured that the title was heading back west.
Galway: J Connolly, N Ward, M Coyne, O Dixon, R McPhilbin, E Flaherty, S Burke, A Clarke (2-1, 2 pen 0-1f), G Conneally, A Daly, C Cormican (0-1), L Ward, B Hannon (1-2), L Joyce (0-3), R Leonard (0-3, 1f).
Subs: O Divilly for Joyce, E Gannon for Leonard, M Moloney for Burke, S Conneally for Dixon
Westmeath: S Keegan, A Martin, R Dunne, T Durkan, J Rogers, A Giles, L Brennan, R Kearney (0-1), J Maher (0-1), C Blundell (0-1), MA Foley (0-1), K McDermott, F Leavy (0-5 (3f), F Claffey, K Hegarty.
Subs: C Kelly for McDermott, N Judge for Blundell, A Brady for Rogers, S Dolan for Leavy
Referee: G Corrigan (Down).