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Leona back in business after a year out injured

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RETURN: Leona Archibold.

RETURN: Leona Archibold.

RETURN: Leona Archibold.

Go to see Westmeath Ladies play and you won't miss Leona Archibold. The team's playmaker stands out with a shock of blonde hair and her countless tattoos, but it's her natural skill on the ball that really catches your eye.

Back in Sean Finnegan's squad following a year out due to injury, Archibold has blended her first love of Gaelic football with her second of soccer. A top class handballer in her day too, Archibold was thriving on the inter-county scene this year and retains hope that Westmeath will get a chance to build on their positive Lidl National League Division 1 campaign at some stage.

"It was great to be back in with the county. I took the year out last year because I was injured. I have had some lower back problems that I've had over the years. I wanted to take a few months out to try and get it sorted," said 31-year-old Archibold.

"I went back playing a bit of club football to ease my way back in and soon enough Sean was on to me at the start of the year to come back and join the panel. Sean can be very persuasive, although it didn't take much convincing.

"We had a bit of a talk: I have other commitments too, I play a bit of soccer and I wanted to make sure I could work around both seeing as we were half way though the soccer season at that stage. I didn't want to let either team down, I was just delighted to be back playing Division 1 football.

"Personally, I'm getting there, I'm not playing as well as I'd like to but I was hoping that come championship time, that'd be my time to play my best football."

Westmeath were promoted to Division 1 of the Lidl NFL back in 2017. Back in 2011, they gained Senior Championship status with TG4 All-Ireland success, a trophy win that Archibold missed out on due to handball commitments.

While she was away from the squad last season, Westmeath slipped out of the Senior grade again.

"Last year was a disappointment but we took in a lot of new girls this year. Sean has been trying to build the panel back up and I suppose playing Division 1 was always going to be a benefit to us."