|Westmeath vs Louth AFL Div 3 Final|
|Sunday, 24 April 2011 16:31|
Five points was the difference in the end as a determined Louth banished the memories of last summer and finished the stronger side against their Leinster counterparts. Despite being the better team throughout Louth needed to come from three points down to claim victory, with the game turning on an opportunist goal from full forward, Ronan Carroll.
Louth started as they finished, much the stronger than their counterparts, though could be accused of some wayward finishing that kept the Midlanders in the contest. Cooley's Brian Donnelly opened the scoring for the Wee County in the opening minute, after Paraic Smith broke up play in the Westmeath defence. Six minutes later, wing back Liam Shevlin kicked the ball over, on the run after being set up by Ray Finnegan. Westmeath's Conor Lynam opened his sides account in the twelfth minute from a placed ball after Paddy Keenan was harshly penalised for a 'throw ball'. Lynam claimed his second score in the twentieth minute, however these were sandwiched between two scores from Ronan Carroll, as Louth reflected their dominance on the scoreboard. Indeed the Wee County should have been much further ahead but for some wasteful shooting, albeit into a tricky headwind. Good work from Andy McDonnell set up Smith for a goal chance, but his effort was blocked by the legs of a Westmeath defender, though Adrian Reid did claim Louth's fifth point of the contest with the outside of his left boot, following a move involving Mark Brennan and Smith.
Westmeath were jolted into action and Lynam in particular dragged his side back into the game. Two points from the St Lomans man and another from corner forward Paul Greville brought the sides level for the first time in the contest, as the men from the Lake County made the best use of their possession. Carroll put Louth back in front on the half hour with a curing left footed effort, but by now Westmeath were gaining more of a foothold in the game. Greville capitalised on a loose ball in the Louth defence to level the match, before Denis Glennon opened his account in first half injury time, to give his side the lead for the firs time in the contest. Having begun the match brighly, Louth were now behind and ruing the numerous chances that went abegging at the Davin Stand end.
A sweetly struck shot from McDonnell which sneaked inside the right hand post narrowed the gap to two points, however Westmeath began to experience their best moments of the game. Greville grabbed his third point of the game in the eighth minute of the second half, before Glennon's fisted effort stretched his sides lead to three points. Westmeath's purple patch spurred Louth into action. Donnelly and Keenan regained their dominance in the midfield sector, the former with a number of spectacularly high fielded balls. The Cooley man's pass out to Smith led to Louth's next point as the Dreadnots man took on his marker and curled the ball delightfully over the bar. Keenan narrowed the gap further following a pass from McDonnell, as Louth's momentum grew. Donnelly's 48m free kick was sweetly struck, but more to the point, accurately as Louth drew level. Greville and Glennon combined again for another score for the Killucan man as Westmeath went back in front. Manager Peter Fitzpatrick sprung JP Rooney from the bench on the hour mark, and the Martins man was quickly into the action. Almost immediately the ball broke for Rooney, who dribbled the ball soccer style through the Westmeath defence, an though keeper Gary Connaughton saved his effort, the ball squirmed from his grasp to the onrushing Carroll who slammed it to the back of the net. A run from Finnegan was halted at the expense of a free kick, which Keenan duly pointed to extend the Louth lead. A free kick from Greville narrowed the gap to two points as the game entered into the last few minutes.
A two point lead, entering added time, defending the Davin Stand goal...sound familiar? But this Louth team is made of sterner stuff. Matured and battle-hardened, Louth showed composure in closing out the game. The evergreen Finnegan combined well with Maguire to drill over Connaughton's bar from a tight angle, before fellow St Patricks man Keenan curled the ball left footed over the black spot. A superb point from Maguire in the second minute of injury time put the icing on the cake for Louth, and as referee Rory Hickey blew his whistle for the last time, the Wee County supporters went into raptures.
Listen to post-match interview with Paddy Keenan, courtesy of Coilin Duffy.
Paddy Keenan's reaction to Louth's Allianz National Football League Final win over Westmeath.
Listen to post-match interview with Peter Fitzpatrick, courtesy of Coilin Duffy.
Peter Fitzpatrick's reaction to Louth's Allianz National Football League Final win over Westmeath.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 12:17|