By Kieran Galvin
Westmeath ladies football manager Martin Flanagan has named his team for the TESCO Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 2 final against Galway tomorrow (Saturday, Parnell Park, 2pm).
Garrycastle's Laura Brennan has been selected at wing-back and her club-mates Aimee Duncan, Sarah Dolan, Lorraine Duncan and Lauren Kennedy are included among the substitutes.
Kilbeggan's Triona Durkan lines out at corner-back while former Kilbeggan player Fiona Claffey (a first cousin of Sarah Dolan, Fiona now plays club football in Dublin) has been named at full-forward.
While the Division 2 title will be up for grabs in Donneycarney tomorrow, more importantly the winners will be promoted to Division 1 for next season.
Galway topped Division 2 in the league phase, registering a very impressive seven wins from seven games. Westmeath finished as runners up, winning five games and losing twice. That included a ten-point defeat to Saturday’s opponents in round 4 (Galway 3-13 Westmeath 2-6).
In the semi-finals, Westmeath defeated Down (2-16 to 2-9) while Galway had a comprehensive win over Meath (3-21 to 0-11) - a result which demonstrated the scoring power in the Connacht side's ranks.
Westmeath have made great strides under Martin Flanagan in recent times with this final appearance acting as another milestone. They will enter this match as underdogs but there is plenty of talent in their squad.
Ruth Kearney and former AIT student Johanna Maher are a strong midfield partnership who will receive plenty of help from Maud Annie Foley. Their full forward line is especially formidable with Fiona Leavy, Fiona Claffey and Karen Hegarty well capable of doing plenty of damage if they see enough possession.
The Tribeswomen have suffered heartbreak at this stage having lost the final to Mayo in 2012 and Kerry last year. Barry Downey has a great mix of youth and experience to call on as he introduces 2013 All-Ireland Minor championship winners Nicola Ward and Olivia Divilly to the side. Experience is provided by the likes of Emer Flaherty, Sinead Burke, Annette Clarke and Lorna Joyce, but much will depend on the form of their scoring machine Roisín Leonard.
The Division 2 final is part of a triple header of league finals tomorrow. The main event is the Division 1 decider between All-Ireland champions Cork and Dublin (3.45pm). The action gets underway with the Division 3 final between Armagh and Waterford (12.15).
Westmeath: 1.Sarah Keegan (Tyrrellspass); 2. Aileen Martin (capt., St Loman’s), 3. Rebecca Dunne (St Loman’s), 4. Triona Durkan (Kilbeggan-Shamrocks); 5. Jenny Rogers (Milltown), 6. Aimee Giles (Coralstown/Kinnegad); 7. Laura Brennan (Garrycastle); 8. Ruth Kearney (Milltown), 9. Johanna Maher (Tyrrellspass); 10. Ciara Blundell (St Loman’s), 11. Maud Annie Foley (Coralstown/Kinnegad), 12. Karen McDermott (Rochfortbridge); 13. Fiona Leavy (Killucan), 14. Fiona Claffey (Foxrock Cabinteely), 15. Karen Hegarty (Mullingar Shamrocks)
Subs: 16. Siobhán Kiernan (Mullingar Shamrocks), 17. Aimee Duncan (Garrycastle), 18. Aoife Brady (Rochfortbridge), 19. Nicola Judge (Rochfortbridge), 20. Chloe Kelly (Clann Gaels), 21. Laura Kiernan(Milltown),22. Lauren Kennedy (Garrycastle), 23. Rachel O’Malley (Killucan), 24. Bronagh Beglan (Milltown), 25. Fiona Coyle (Rochfortbridge), 26. Lorraine Duncan (Garrycastle), 27. Sarah Dolan (Garrycastle), 28. Katie Somers (Milltown)
Management Team: Martin Flanagan (Manager), Mark Staunton, Jack Cooney
Galway: 1. Johanna Connolly (Glenamaddy/Williamstown); 2. Nicola Ward (Kilkerrin/Clonberne) 3. Mairead Coyne (Grainne Mhaoil’s), 4. Orla Dixon (Claregalway); 5. Rebecca McPhilbin (St Brendan’s), 6. Emer Flaherty (Tuam/Cortoon), 7. Sinead Burke (capt., Killannin), 8. Annette Clarke (Kilkerrin/Clonberne), 9. Geraldine Conneally (Dunmore/McHales); 10. Aoibheann Daly (Milltown), 11. Caitriona Cormican (St Gabriel's), 12. Olivia Divilly (Kilkerrin/Clonberne); 13. Barbara Hannon (Dunmore/McHales), 14. Lorna Joyce (An Fhairche), 15. Roisin Leonard (Corofin)
Subs: 16. Tina Hughes (Corofin), 17. Sarah Conneally (Dunmore McHales), 18. Eilis Gannon (Glenamaddy/Williamstown), 19. Sinéad Egan (An Fhairche), 20. Sarah Lynch (N. A. Leitir Móir), 21. Nicola Burke (Annaghdown), 22. Gillian O’Connor (Caherlistrane), 23. Lucy Hannon (Dunmore/McHales), 24. Annie Connaughton (Dunmore/McHales), 25. Noelle Connolly (Glenamaddy/Williamstown), 26. Louise Ward (Kilkerrin/Clonberne), 27. Tara Hession (Claregalway), 28. Edel Concannon (Tuam/Cortoon), 29. Meabhdh Moloney (Corofin),30. Charlotte Cooney (Claregalway)
Management Team: Barry Downey (Manager), Kevin Reidy, Dave Mulally, Martina Cummins