Early Mayo goals crucial as they stave off late Westmeath rally


Mayo 3-12

Westmeath 2-12

By Seamus Dunne at St Loman’s Mullingar

Three goals in the first 15 minutes ensured Mayo celebrated victory on St Patrick’s Day and they lifted their hopes of a spot in the Lidl National Football League semi-final with a win over Westmeath following a pulsating encounter.

Played in very windy conditions, this was a key game for both sides as they sought to end their lengthy losing streaks, but with a seven-point lead to their name at half-time Mayo held on to win.

With Westmeath being managed by a Mayo man, Sean Finnegan, and Mayo having Westmeath native Peter Leahy at the helm, there was an interesting sideshow to this battle, but Leahy’s side picked up the points to ease their relegation worries, while wins over Cork and Monaghan in their remaining games could yet be enough to see them reach the last four.

For Westmeath, this is now four straight losses and only Monaghan are below them in the standings, but on another day they could have edged this clash. Westmeath outscored their opponents 1-4 to 0-3 in an excellent second-half, but their comeback fell agonisingly short.

The rain eased off before throw-in to the delight of the packed crowd at St Loman’s and Mayo sharpshooter Rachel Kearns kicked the first score from a free. They went further ahead after Grace Kelly and Niamh Kelly pointed, before Sinead Cafferky took advantage of a Westmeath turnover to fire in the opening goal.

Pressure from Mayo on the Westmeath kick-out led to errors, and soon Tamara O’Connor scored their second goal when she gathered a rebound off the crossbar.

After a slow start Westmeath started to improve with a flurry of points from Sarah Dillon before Anna Jones palmed a much needed goal for the home side.

But Mayo hit back and scored their third goal after 15 minutes with Fiona Doherty applying the finishing touch to make it 3-5 to 1-3.

Mayo continued to be the better team coming up to half-time with brilliant points from Fiona Doherty and Kearns, although Sarah Dillon and Maud-Annie Foley impressed for the midlanders, to close the deficit to 3-9 to 1-8 at half-time.

If Mayo bossed the first-half, Westmeath dominated the second, and they claimed four unanswered scores to start the half, including a second goal for Jones.

But try as they might Westmeath could never pull close enough and three Mayo frees staved off the powerful charge from the home side.

Scorers – Mayo: F Doherty 1-2, S Cafferky 1-1, G Kelly 0-3 (2f), T O’Connor 1-0, N Gaughan 0-2 (2f), R Kearns 0-2 (1f), C McManamon 0-1, N Kelly 0-1.

Westmeath: S Dillon 0-7 (2f), A Jones 2-0, L Slevin 0-2 (2f), F Claffey 0-1, J Maher 0-1) A Dolan 0-1.

Mayo: L Brennan; N O’Malley, R Flynn, E Brennan; K Sullivan, Ciara McManamon, D Caldwell; Clodagh McManamon, D Finn; S Cafferky, T O’Connor, N Kelly; F Doherty, R Kearns, G Kelly

Subs: E Neeham for Brennan (17), N Gaughan for Clodagh McManamon (22), R Durkin for Doherty (36).

Westmeath: K Walsh; R Dillon, J Rodgers, L Power; F Coyle, F Claffey, N Feery; A Jones, J Maher; K McDermott, M A Foley, L McCartan; S Dillon, J Hennessy, A Dolan.

Subs: K Boyce Joran for Feery (17), S Dolan for A Dolan (32), L Slevin for Hennessy (34).

Referee: G Corrigan (Down).



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