'It's about showing you belong on the stage' says Lynch as Down beat Westmeath

Down Captain Meghan Doherty finds herself surrounded by Westmeath players at Pairc Esler on Sunday. Pictures: Brendan Monaghan. BM09Down Captain Meghan Doherty finds herself surrounded by Westmeath players at Pairc Esler on Sunday. Pictures: Brendan Monaghan. BM09
Down Captain Meghan Doherty finds herself surrounded by Westmeath players at Pairc Esler on Sunday. Pictures: Brendan Monaghan. BM09
TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship, Down 1-9 Westmeath 0-10

Down continued their unbeaten championship run with a two-point victory over Westmeath in Pairc Esler on Sunday to finish on top of their All-Ireland Intermediate Championship group and secure home advantage in the quarter-finals while their opponents will have to slug it out for second place when they play Cavan next week.

A second half goal from Laoise Duffy sealed the deal for Down in a closely contested game that was nip-and-tuck throughout.

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The home side began well and led 0-4 to 0-1 after 10 minutes but they let Westmeath back in the game and it was all-square 0-7 apiece at half-time.

Saval girl Ciara Byrne stops a dangerous attack from Westmeath's Karen Hegarty at Pairc Esler on Sunday.Saval girl Ciara Byrne stops a dangerous attack from Westmeath's Karen Hegarty at Pairc Esler on Sunday.
Saval girl Ciara Byrne stops a dangerous attack from Westmeath's Karen Hegarty at Pairc Esler on Sunday.

The second half remained tight until that goal on 54 minutes that put Down four points in front and they didn't let Westmeath catch up when it mattered most and held on for the win.

“It was every bit what we expected,” said Down co-manager Peter Lynch after the game.

“Westmeath have been operating at a high level for years. They play in Division 2 and have also been in the senior grade for years at intermediate they're always at the business end of it. They've won a couple of Intermediate championships. They've gone up and competed in senior and come back so a lot of those players have had their grounding at a high grade. So it's a big result for us because again it's like showing you belong on the stage with the so-called stronger teams. It's all about progressing and today is another step forward.”

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Lynch agrees that the goal came at a good time in a very tight game.

Down's Natalie McKibben offloads under pressure from a couple of Westmeath players on Sunday. BM08Down's Natalie McKibben offloads under pressure from a couple of Westmeath players on Sunday. BM08
Down's Natalie McKibben offloads under pressure from a couple of Westmeath players on Sunday. BM08

“It was nip-and-tuck the whole game. We couldn't get away from them and when they did edge in front we were able to reel them back in again. But I thought the way the girls defended was great, especially winning dirty ball and winning the turnovers when we really needed them. We asked them to show a bit more fight, a bit more controlled aggression in the second half and I think we got that from them. They weren't willing to be rolled over here today and that's good that they're able to show that.”

There could have been more goals for Down too, but Westmeath defended well.

“They did. The keeper made a couple of good saves. Maybe a wee bit more composure in front of the posts was needed. A couple of times we could have had goals and that would have changed the complexion of it, but when you win these games they really stand to you going forward.”

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With another round of fixtures left to be played Down don't know yet who they will play in the quarter-final but Lynch is delighted to know whoever it is will be on home turf.

“We've won the group which means we get home advantage against one of the second place teams from the other groups and that remains to be seen. We can't play the winner of Cavan or Westmeath from our own group but I think it's an open draw otherwise so we'll just wait and see. The reward for winning today was to get that All-Ireland quarter-final at home and hopefully we get the support that will make home advantage count.”

MATCH STATS

Down: A McGivern A Greene, C Byrne, E Sands; C Mulvenna, N McKibben, O Duffy; M Doherty, N Ferris (0-4); N Scullion, N King (0-2,1f), L Duffy (1-2); N McClory (0-1), S Dougherty, V McCormack

Subs: A Lavery for McClory (45mins), A McAlea for Greene (57mins), A O'Higgins for King (58mins), N McGrath for McCormack (68mins)

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Westmeath: L McCormack; L McCartan, M Newman, L Power; C Kelly, F Coyle, R Dillon; C Kilmurray, T Dillon; A Ruane (0-1), L Slevin (0-2, both frees), A Jones; M Monaghan (0-1), S Dillon (0-6), K Hegarty

Subs: V Carr for Hegarty (44mins), L McCartan for Monaghan (51mins), P Ruane for A Ruane (57mins)

Referee: Philip Conway (Armagh)

For full match report see this week’s Newry Reporter in shops Wednesday June 12

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