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'We had a crowd of 80 people at our Leinster semi-final'

The Lake County’s ladies take on Dublin in the provincial decider.

Westmeath skipper Jenny Rogers (far left) joins her fellow captains at the recent TG4 championship launch.
Westmeath skipper Jenny Rogers (far left) joins her fellow captains at the recent TG4 championship launch.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

ON THE SAME day that the Westmeath senior footballers shocked Meath at Croke Park, the county’s ladies were busy creating their own piece of history.

It got lost a little bit in the maelstrom that surrounded the exploits of John Heslin, Kieran Martin et al but the Westmeath ladies also beat Meath to reach a Leinster final.

And on Sunday, they have the chance to go one step further than their male counterparts by lifting the provincial crown against a Dublin team chasing four-in-a-row.

“Our semi-final was fixed for the same day as the men’s game,” captain Jenny Rogers recalls.

“We had a crowd of maybe 80 people there – parents, brothers and sisters who missed the men’s game to be there.

“We’re lucky that we have a core group of dedicated supporters and it would be great to get a crowd behind us for the final.

Elaine Finn lifts the trophy Westmeath were All-Ireland intermediate champions in 2011. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We’re really looking forward to it. There’s a huge buzz around but we know it’s going to be a huge challenge. 

“Dublin were in the All-Ireland last year and are one of the top teams in the country.”

Rogers, 25, began her playing career with Westmeath as a 15-year-old and is currently enjoying her 11th intercounty season.

In the last number of years, the Lake County have taken huge strides forward, progressing through the Tesco Homegrown Leagues to become an established Division 2 outfit.

Jenny Rogers and Mairead Stenson Jenny Rogers pictured alongside Leitrim's Mairead Stenson. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Landing a senior provincial title would represent a massive step forward for the 2011 All-Ireland intermediate champions and Rogers insists that the Westmeath ladies can take heart from the performance of the men’s team in the Leinster final against Dublin.

“We went up as a team to Croke Park,” she says.

“It really gave us a lot of heart, in the first half the way they put it up to Dublin.

“Nobody gave them a chance but themselves. They were only four points down at half-time but the goals in the second half were real killers.

“Dublin had such a strong side and it was hard to come back from that. But they really put it up to them and the belief they showed against Meath as well really gave us a lot of heart.”

Victory over Meath in the Leinster semi-final for the Westmeath ladies was a landmark result and Rogers reflects: “We were just saying ourselves that a few years ago coming up against Meath, we wouldn’t have given ourselves a hope.

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“It just goes to show how much we’ve come on. Beating Meath was definitely nice – there’s a close rivalry there.”

Martin Flanagan Former Westmeath footballer Martin Flanagan managed the county's ladies team last year. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But Rogers admits that the fixtures clash involving the men’s and women’s teams was unfortunate.

“I think the Westmeath county board was trying to fix our game for a different time. I don’t know where the communication broke down but it was a huge pity. 

“It was still great to win the game and we don’t care who was there watching as long as we won it.

“It was still a bit of an anti-climax with the empty stands because Cusack Park is a big pitch.

“It’s rare to get in there and beat Meath but Cusack Park has been kind to us and we’ve had some success there.

“We found out at half-time that the men had won their match.”

Maud Annie Foley Maud Annie Foley is a key player for Westmeath. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dublin boss Gregory McGonigle has announced his team for the final at Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow.

There are two changes to the side that beat Laois in the semi-final as Colleen Barrett replaces Sorcha Furling, with All-Ireland U21 winner Niamh Rickard replacing Amy Connolly up front.

Dublin

1 Ciara Trant (St Brigid’s)

2 Olwen Carey (Thomas Davis)
3 Muireann Ní Scanaill (St Margaret’s)
4 Fiona Hudson (Fingallians)

5 Sinead Goldrick (Foxrock Cabinteely)
6 Sinead Finnegan (Fingallians)
7 Colleen Barrett (St Brigid’s)

8 Molly Lamb (Kilmacud Crokes)
9 Sarah McCaffrey (Clontarf)

10 Noelle Healy (St Brigid’s)
11 Kim Flood (Clanna Gael Fontenoy)
12 Carla Rowe (Clann Mhuire)

13 Niamh Rickard (Fingallians)
14 Lyndsey Davey (Skerries Harps)
15 Niamh McEvoy (St Sylvester’s)

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