Westmanstown Gaels stormed to the Division 4 national Feile shield final with a series of heroic performances in Louth and Meath.
It followed their Division 5 success in Dublin in April, representing the county in a group alongside St Patrick’s Stamullen, St Brigids Longford and St Fechin’s of Termonfeckin.
Following their trip to Stamullen on the Friday evening, things got off to a bad start as the Gaels were soundly beaten by a dynamic and skilful St Patrick’s team who had a great eye for goal.
The final score was 7-3 to 1-3 but that did not reflect the competitive Westmanstown performance. The second game also went badly in the first half with St Brigid’s ahead by 2-6 to 0-1. However a strong second half defensive performance kept the potent St Brigid’s attack scoreless and the game finished on the same score.
Despite the results, the Westmanstown side held their heads high for day two. They played off against the home team in a far more evenly matched contest and came out narrow winners 1-4 to 1-2.
The two defeats on the previous evening consigned them to the shield competition and thus Westmanstown were drawn against Shane O’Neill’s of Armagh in the quarter final on Saturday afternoon.
After a trip to Termonfeckin beach for a communal swim, they came back refreshed for the new challenge. The quarter final match proved an epic contest and Westmanstown produced a strong performance to triumph 2-7 to 2-1.
A semi-final on the Sunday in Navan followed against local team Simonstown Ladies. Another match of equals produced a Westmanstown win, 2-3 to 2-1, and a final in Pairc Tailteann against Kinawley Brian Boru of Fermanagh.
The final was an entertaining epic game of contrasting fortunes. Westmanstown played with a deceptively strong breeze in the first half which gave a great advantage. They capitalised but crucially leaked 2 girls to a strong Kinawley full forward, leading 3-3 to 2-0.
Predictably, Kinawley came back with the strong wind at their backs and, with two minutes to go, the score was 3-5 to 2-6 to Westmanstown.
Then, the Kinawley captain full forward struck with a third goal to take them into a one point lead. In the last minute, the Gaels determinedly worked their way up the field where captain Zeta Hemeryck was dragged down about 30 metres out.
She took the resulting free kick herself and against the breeze agonisingly struck the post and then the full time whistle was blown giving victory to Kinawley.
It was a devastating end to a wonderful weekend of Gaelic football played in fabulous sunshine.
They were ably lead by captain Hemeryck and co-captain Emma Lyons on her return from injury. All the squad made significant contributions and all the players played in as many games as possible.
Lia Cronin, Caoimhe Howard, Katie Murphy and the coaches player of the tournament Béibhinn Forker played almost every minute of every one of the six games in very hot conditions.
The side have elements in place to go again next season with five of the squad still Under-12 and 18 of this squad of 24 eligible for Under-14 Féile again next year.