A dominant opening 20 minute spell in which they raced into a 2-07 to no score lead saw Westmeath extend their unbeaten run in this season’s NFL campaign.
It was a blow to Louth following their return to winning ways last weekend against Antrim. Their hopes were dealt a blow before the game though as Patsi McGuinness, Tara Lynch, Sarah Quinn and Niamh Reid were all ruled out through injury.
The home side were quickly into their stride with Elaine Finn pointing within 45 seconds of the start.
Louth had an early let off as Sinead Walker shot wide when well placed. The home side’s slick passing and good support play were creating major problems for the Louth backline and it was no surprise when Katie Sommers hit the game’s opening goal in the fifth minute.
The visitors had their first chance just moments later when Rosanna Heeney’s good pass was well fielded by Maria Reid who passed to Susan Byrne but the Louth captain shot narrowly wide.
The midlanders were quickly back on the attack with Emma Morris having her shot brilliantly beaten out by Kelly Cunningham with the number 11 knocking the follow up over the bar. Westmeath continued to dominate and hit five points in as many minutes although Louth did create
a goal chance of their own in this period as fine play by Jenny McGuinness and Michelle McMahon set Susan Byrne free but her low shot was well saved by Christine Warburton in the home goal.
Louth were dealt a hammer blow in the 17th minute as full forward Fiona Claffey found herself in space to pass to Ruth Kearney who rounded two defenders to slot into the net give her side a 2-07 to 0-00 lead after 18 minutes.
The Louth management made a number of changes with the introduction of Patricia Marmion and Kate Flood moving into a more familiar attacking role.
Flood had Louth on the scoreboard as she caught Maria Reid’s high pass and fired over in the 20th minute but Westmeath came back with three points of their own.
Louth then had two points, the first after a great run by Grace Lynch whose pass reached Vicki McGinn who hit a superb point from 30 metres.
Jenny McGuinness then shot over from a very difficult angle to give Louth renewed hope,but it was the divisions pacesetters who had the final say with points from Finn and Claffey.
The visitors did have a goal chance late in the half as good play by McGinn gave Rosanna Heeney a chance but the Roche players low shot was well saved by the Westmeath custodian ensuring a healthy half time lead of 2-11 to 0-3 for the Lake county.
Louth resumed well with two fine points from Flood and McMahon and might have reduced the deficit further but efforts from McGuinness, Flood and Heeney were all wide of the mark.
Westmeath hit back with a point of their own but Louth were enjoying the lions share of possession but didn’t make full use of their opportunities as Heeney, Byrne and Michelle McMahon all saw their attempts drop short into the keepers arms.
The Reds did find the range as Emma Conlon and Susan Byrne hit fine points from distance.
The sides then swapped points as the impressive Katie Sommers and Susan Byrne were both on target to leave Westmeath leading by 2-14 to 0-8 with 50 minutes showing on the clock.
Louth hit the next four points with McGuinness, Heeney and Conlon (2) all on target,but it was the home side who had the final say with points from Claffey and Finn.
Louth joint managers John Hanratty and Brendan Wynne will take heart from a good second half display in which their charges outscored their opponents by 0-9 to 0-5 but their inquest is sure to focus on their poor opening 20 minutes where major damage was done to their hopes.
Kelly Cunningham had another fine outing as Louth’s last line of defence pulling off a number of excellent stops while Grace Lynch, Anne-Marie Lynch and Vicki McGinn and substitute Patricia Marmion did well in defence.
Sandra Lynch never stopped trying at midfield and also when moved back to full-back while Kate Flood did very well when switched to the attack along with the impressive Jenny McGuinness while Emma Conlon and Michelle McMahon also worked hard through out.
Louth can ensure their place in the League semi finals if they can overcome Derry in their final game on Sunday which will be played at a Louth venue.
Westmeath: C Warburton, A Brady, K McDermott, C Finch; P Keogh, J Rogers, A Martin; M Foley, R Kearney; E Finn 0-4, E Morris 0-3 S Walker 0-1; K Sommers 1-3, F Claffey 0-4, K Hegarty.
Louth: Kelly Cunningham; Kate Cumiskey, Grace Rogers, Aine McGee; Anne-Marie Lynch, Grace Lynch, Vicki McGinn 0-1; Sandra Lynch, Kate Flood 0-2; Rosanna Heeney 0-1, Michelle McMahon 0-1, Emma Conlon 0-3; Jenny McGuinness 0-2, Susan Byrne 0-2, Maria Reid.
Subs: Patricia Marmion for K Cumiskey, Ciara O’Connor for M McMahon, Nicole Hanratty for M Reid, Laura Collins for S Byrne, Sonia Hoey for K Flood.