By Tommy Devane
Galway sealed their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals after Leanne Coen and Roisin Leonard goals eased them to victory against Westmeath at TEG Cusack Park.
Following last week’s win over Kerry and this triumph against the midlanders, Galway are now guaranteed top spot in Group 3 with one game remaining in the pool.
Nicole Feery hit back with a goal for the hosts in the second period, but they now need a win against Kerry next weekend to earn their passage to the knock-out stages.
In the early action both sides struggled to find their feet in Mullingar, but once Treacy Leonard fired Galway’s opening point in the sixth minute they began to settle.
Sean Finnegan’s side responded well though and a Fiona Claffey point two minutes later soon had her side on parity again. The acton continued to be tight with Galway captain Leonard and Leanne Slevin taking turns to raise the white flag, but from the end of the first quarter to the interval Galway took over. That period of dominance proved to be the winning of the game.
The in-form Roisin Leonard gave Galway the lead after 20 minutes from a free on the left, but the key score of the game arrived four minutes from half-time. A fine move started in the Galway defence involving Olivia Divilly, Sarah Conneally and Louise Ward, and her pass set up Roisin Leonard to convert the opening goal.
Even with the lead provided by the goal Galway continued to torment the Westmeath defence in the closing stages of the first-half. Three unanswered points from Rosin Leonard, Conneally and Treacy Leonard meant Galway held a seven-point cushion at the break, 1-6 to 0-2.
The second-half began brightly for the eventual winners with two excellent early scores from Nicola Ward and Treacy Leonard stretching Galway’s lead to nine points by the sixth minute of part two.
Westmeath’s hopes were lifted when Galway lost Fabienne Cooney to a yellow card and they trimmed the deficit thanks to a point from Sarah Dolan. That gap was down to eight points by the 43rd minute when a speculative long range shot from Nicole Feery deceived Galway goalkeeper Lisa Murphy and ended up in the back of the net.
However, Galway responded well with two points from Roisin Leonard and they finished this contest late on with a wonderfully taken goal from substitute Coen.
Scorers – Galway: R Leonard 1-4 (3f), T Leonard 0-4 (2f), L Coen 1-0, O Divilly 0-2, S Conneally 0-1, N Ward 0-1, S Burke 0-1
Westmeath: N Feery 1-0, F Claffey 0-1, L Slevin 0-1 (1f) S Dolan 0-1.
Galway: L Murphy; N Ward, S Burke, F Cooney; O Murphy, B Hannon, C Cooney; L Ward, Á McDonagh; O Divilly, M Glynn, M Seoighe; T Leonard, S Conneally, R Leonard.
Subs: S Lynch for Hannon (26), L Coen for L Ward (h-t), S Molloy for Cooney (h-t), L Hannon for Glynn (40), M Coyne for McDonagh (58).
Westmeath: L McCormack; R Dillon, J Rogers, L Power; K Boyce Jordan, K McDermott, F Coyle; J Maher, MA Foley; S Dolan, A Jones, N Feery; L Slevin, F Claffey, V Carr.
Subs: L Brennan for Dolan (41), B McNamee for Slevin (48), K Hegarty for Jones (58).
Referee: N McCormack (Laois).Tweet