Sheena McGuckian scored the goal as Waterford preserved their Lidl National Football League Division 1 status and relegated Westmeath at Abbotstown.

The sides were level 0-05 to 0-05 at half time but Waterford dominated possession throughout and there were impressive displays from Emma Murray in midfield, along with Aileen Wall and Lauren McGregor up front.

Westmeath battled bravely and Sarah Dillon scored four points for Michael Finneran's team but Waterford outscored last year’s TG4 All Ireland Intermediate champions by 1-12 to 0-02 in the second half, dooming them to the drop.

The opening quarter was a tight affair and two Sarah Dillon points (one free) alongside an Anna Jones free meant they led by 0-03 to 0-02 at the water break. Waterford's opening points came courtesy of Lauren McGregor and Aisling Mullaney.

McGregor levelled the game for Waterford after the break before Megan Dunford and Sarah Dillon traded points. Aileen Wall opened her account on 25 minutes and while Waterford spurned chances, a fourth Sarah Dillon point ensured the sides were level at the break.

Aileen Wall got her second point as the action resumed in the second half before two Katie Murray points opened up a three-point gap. Chloe Kelly reduced the arrears to two but the Waterford attack was unrelenting. Points from Mullaney, Katie Murray and a Brid McMaugh free increased Waterford’s advantage to five points.

The lead was six when Emma Murray and Katie Murray teamed up and found Mullaney who floated the ball over the bar. Waterford could have been further ahead but for Ciara Faulkner in the Westmeath goal, who made several saves. Jones got her second free and there were just five points between the teams at the second half water break.

In the final quarter, Waterford continued to dominate and the introduction of substitute Chloe Fennell added further threat, as she converted two points. With five minutes left in the game, Waterford’s attacking prowess was rewarded when Aine O’Neill played in McGuckian who made no mistake with the goal.

While Westmeath tried to get back into contention, Waterford finished stronger and points from McMaugh and O’Neill ensured survival.

Waterford: E Gallagher; M Dunford (0-01), C McGrath, A O’Neill (0-01); A Mullaney (0-03), Karen McGrath, L Cusack; E Murray, L Mulcahy; B McMaugh (0-03(2f)), H Power, R Casey; K Murray (0-03), L McGregor (0-02), A Wall (0-02).

Subs: C Fennell (0-02(1f)) for McGregor (48), M Wall for Power (49), C McCarthy for Mullaney (52), S McGuckian (1-00) for A Wall (52), A Dunphy for Casey (56).

Westmeath: C Faulkner; M Fagan, L Power, N Nolan; F Coyle, A Alford, C Kelly (0-01); A Ruane, T Dillon; A Jones (0-02(2f), C Thornton, K Boyce Jordan; S Dillon (0-04(1f)), K Hegarty, C Blundell.

Subs: V Carr for Thornton (30), A O’Malley for Boyce Jordan (45), M Scally for Fagan (49), M McDonald for Hegarty (52), K Giles for Blundell (58).

Referee: Declan Carolan (Armagh).

By Aisling Clery