MICHELLE Nolan proved the poster girl for perseverance, scoring two goals after her reintroduction at the start of extra time, having failed to make an impact in the 50 minutes of action she saw prior to that.
It was an encapsulation of what Carlow were about, having had to play 34 minutes of regulation time at a numerical disadvantage following the sending off of talismanic joint-captain Marion Doyle just before half time.
Doyle’s dismissal came following an off-the-ball incident in the 26th minute, a decision that did not meet with the approval of the Carlow contingent.
They clearly used the sense of grievance as a galvanising force however, producing a magnificent performance in the second half and extra time to see off Westmeath.
That sees them appearing in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Premier Junior Camogie Final, 12 months after annexing the Junior A title.
Dinah Loughlin was prominent for Westmeath and was central to the Lakesiders establishing a 0-6 to 0-4 interval advantage.
At that juncture, Johnny Greville’s team held the whip hand and deserved to be ahead.
Eleanor Tracey kept Carlow in contention and they finished strongly to bring the game into extra time, with the scores standing at 0-9 each.
Mark Brennan and his selectors decided to bring Nolan back on to restore them to the full complement of 15 and it proved an inspired decision.
Nolan’s first goal arrived after good work from Ali Ruschitzko in the 67th minute and she struck for the second occasion directly after half time of extra time, Ruschitzko again playing an important contributory role.
It looked like curtains for Westmeath at that juncture, as they trailed by seven points but they threw everything at their opponents.
Dinah Loughlin had the ball in the Carlow net but referee Julie O’Neill had called play back for a free.
Pamela Greville did find the net soon afterwards though and the gap was down to two with three minutes remaining.
Carlow kept their composure however and saw the game out well to continue their remarkable championship momentum.
The girls will play Armagh in the All Ireland Final on September the 11th at 12pm.
SCORERS FOR CARLOW: E Tracey 0-7; M Nolan 2-1; C Mullins, C Quirke 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR WESTMEATH: D Loughlin 0-7; P Greville 1-2; D McGrath, C Corcoran 0-1 each
CARLOW: N Doyle, G Nolan, N Quirke, A Ryan, T Wilson, K Nolan, B Nolan, T Meaney, E Brennan, M Doyle, C Mullins, E Treacy, C Quirke, M Nolan, A Ruschitzko. Subs: R Sawyer for Wilson inj (30), A Murphy for Nolan (50)
WESTMEATH: F Keating, E McCormack, A Higgins, S King, J McCormack, F Leavy, M Scally, C McCrossan, A Doherty, M McCormack, P Greville, D Loughlin, L O’Connor, K Heffernan, D McGrath. Subs: C Corcoran for McCrossan (58), K Egan for Leavy inj (ht)