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Leona Archibold the hero as Westmeath ladies lift Division 2 title to continue their remarkable rise

Westmeath finally gained promotion to the top flight.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Westmeath 3-15
Cavan 0-11

Jackie Cahill reports from St Brendan’s Park, Birr

LEONA ARCHIBOLD SCORED 1-6 and claimed the player-of-the-match award as Westmeath saw off Cavan by 13 points in Sunday’s Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 2 final replay.

Westmeath, Division 2 runners-up last year and in 2014, finally gained promotion to the top flight, capping a remarkable rise in recent years.

The Lake County were Division 4 winners in 2011, claimed Division 3 honours a year later and are now preparing for Division 1 fare next year.

In a surprisingly one-sided rematch at St Brendan’s Park in Birr, Westmeath scored all but one point of their big tally from play.

They also lost Karen McDermott to the sin-bin shortly before half-time but coped admirably in her absence as Cavan struggled to reproduce the kind of football that saw them go close to victory in the drawn match at Parnell Park.

Aisling Doonan did well, notching six points, but Westmeath had the better spread of scorers.

They were much improved on the first game and Archibold signalled her intentions early, posting three early points before netting in the 19th minute.

The goal was avoidable from a Cavan viewpoint as Ailish Cornyn coughed up possession before Archibold goaled from close range.

Cavan, throughout the first half, were struggling on their own kick-outs as Westmeath showed the greater hunger for battle and picked off restarts on numerous occasions.

Three minutes before half-time, Laura Brennan raced through for a second Westmeath goal, finishing at the second attempt after Elaine Walsh had saved her initial effort.

At the break, and having played with the wind from the start, Westmeath had much of the hard work done, leading by 2-11 to 0-4.

Cavan rarely showed signs of mounting a second half revival and Westmeath put the game beyond any lingering doubt with a third goal in the 46th minute.

Archibold was the inadvertent creator on this occasion as her pointed effort was palmed out by Walsh.

Ciara Blundell, who scored two goals in the drawn match, was on hand to put away the rebound and hand Westmeath a 3-13 to 0-7 lead.

The winners would preserve a ‘clean sheet’ and goalkeeper Karen Walsh played her part, diverting Sinéad O’Sullivan’s effort wide as Cavan tried desperately to find a spark in their play.

Doonan kept going for Cavan and clipped over some brilliant points but Westmeath had this won from a long way out.

Scorers for Westmeath: L Archibold 1-6 (0-1f), L Brennan & C Blundell 1-1 each, L McCartan 0-3, M.A. Foley & L Walsh 0-2 each.

Scorers for Cavan: A Doonan 0-6 (3f), C Smith & C O’Reilly (1f) 0-2 each.

Westmeath – K Walsh; R Dillon, A Giles, A Martin; F Coyle, R Dunne, L Brennan; K McDermott, M.A. Foley; F Claffey, L Archibold, K Boyce-Jordan; L McCartan, L Walsh, C Blundell.

Subs: J Maher for Boyce-Jordan (44), C Kelly for L Walsh (52), L Slevin for Blundell (58), K Dunne for Martin (59).

Cavan – E Walsh; R Doonan, A Cornyn, M Sheridan; S Greene, L Fitzpatrick, S Reilly; S O’Sullivan, D English; C Smith, A Rooney, N Byrd; A Sheridan, C O’Reilly, A Doonan.

Subs: R Jordan for Byrd (26), R Talbot for Rooney (35), G Smith for O’Reilly (46), E Farrelly-McGee for C Smith (52).

Referee: B Rice (Down)

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