Westmeath gained promotion to Division 2 of the Bord Gáis Energy Ladies National Football League with a four-point victory over Leitrim in Saturday evening's Division 3 final replay at Emmet Park, Killoe.
The Lake County, crowned TG4 All-Ireland intermediate champions in 2011, finished with a run of four unanswered points, including two from sub Emma Morris, to capture the silverware.
Westmeath, Division 4 champions last year, registered 18 wides in the process, nine in each half, but had goalkeeper Christine Warburton to thank for a couple of superb first half saves to keep Leitrim at bay.
The Westerners were inspired in the first half by Áine Tighe, scorer of eight points in the drawn final at Parnell Park, who registered 1-6 in the rematch at the Longford venue.
But crucially, Tighe was restricted to just a single point in the second half, from a free, after the Kiltubrid attacker helped herself to 1-5 in the opening half and was her side’s solitary scorer before half-time.
At the midway point, Leitrim led by 1-05 to 1-04 but it Westmeath had got off to the better start in front of a bumper attendance, estimated to be in the region of 1500 people.
Westmeath were 1-02 to 0-01 clear with eight minutes on the watch and it was full-forward Karen Hegarty who scored the Lake County goal, collecting a pass from influential midfielder Maud Annie Foley before finishing clinically.
But Leitrim responded in kind at the best possible time, when Tighe finished a flowing move instigated by midfielder Sinead Fowley and moved on by Kiara Keegan.
Tighe and Fowley exchanged a neat one-two before corner forward Tighe finished brilliantly for Leitrim’s goal in a tie that was marred somewhat by the high tally of 59 frees whistled by match referee PJ Rabbitte.
It was a strike that handed her team a slender one-point lead but the second half was a stop-start affair, pockmarked by stoppages and injuries to players.
Leitrim lost the services of Lorraine Brennan to the sin bin for a ten-minute spell but during that time, Westmeath could only outscore their opponents by 0-02 to 0-01.
It appeared that missed chances might cost a team joint-managed by former county stars Alan Mangan and Martin Flanagan but Westmeath finished with a flourish as Leitrim were held to just two points during the entire second half.
Scorers for Leitrim: Á Tighe 1-06 (0-4f), N Tighe 0-01.
Scorers for Westmeath: K Hegarty 1-01, M.A. Foley (3f) & R Kearney 0-03 each, E Morris 0-02 (1f) E Finn & L Walsh 0-01 each.
LEITRIM: M Guckian; M Stenson, E McWeeney, S Kerrigan; K Gilgunn, S Tighe, L McWeeney; S Fowley, D Ward; N Tighe, S McManus, K Keegan; L Brennan, E Farrell, Á Tighe.
Subs: S Clancy for Farrell (44), L O’Dowd for Keegan (53), A.M. Gallagher for McManus (54).
WESTMEATH: C Warburton; A Martin, C Finch, A Brady; K Boyce-Jordon, J Rogers, K McDermott; M.A. Foley, R Kearney; E Finn, F Claffery, J Maher; L Walsh, K Hegarty, C Blundell.
Subs: T Fagan for McDermott (41), E Morris for Blundell (51), S Kelly for Maher (56), L Brennan for Foley (57).
Referee: PJ Rabbitte (Galway).