Dolan teaches Athlone lesson in impressive comeback
The impressive return of marquee forward Dessie Dolan after 18 months' absence from the inter-county scene was the main talking point as Westmeath easily accounted for Athlone IT in the Bórd na Móna O'Byrne Cup in Moate.
The 2004 All Star failed to score from open play, but he converted six frees and linked up very well in attack with the experienced Denis Glennon and relative newcomer Callum McCormack as they impressively accounted for 1-6 and 0-5 from play respectively.
The college side had solid performers in defender Kieran Martin and Ger Egan in and around midfield – ironically, both Westmeath regulars – while Galway's Frankie Burke (0-1) was in lively form at full-forward, but Westmeath always looked the better side.
The winners led by 1-12 to 0-7 at the interval, the only goal coming in the 23rd minute when Glennon scrambled the ball into the net.
The home team continued to dominate the action for most of the second half and they could afford the luxury of Paul Bannon's penalty effort being brilliantly saved by fellow Westmeath man Eoin Carberry on the hour mark.
Dolan exited to sustained applause with nine minutes remaining, having shown no signs of rustiness after his lay-off.
SCORERS – Westmeath: Denis Glennon 1-6, Dessie Dolan 0-6 (6f), C McCormack 0-5, R Foley 0-2, P Bannon, D Mullen, C Curley 0-1 each. Athlone IT: G Egan 0-6 (5f), E Carberry (1 '45'), E Kerins, L Murphy, C Shine, A Coffey, F Burke, J Mulligan 0-1 each.
Westmeath – G Connaughton; M McCallon, K Gavin, A Purcell; M Curley, D Corroon, Damien Dolan; D Duffy, P Bannon; R Foley, Denis Glennon, D Mullen; C Curley, C McCormack, Dessie Dolan. Subs: D Daly for Duffy (54), K Reilly for C Curley (57), J Lynch for McCallon (inj, 58), David Glennon for Dessie Dolan (61).
Athlone IT – E Carberry; E Kerins, K Clarke, C O'Brien; D Maleady, K Martin, L Murphy; A Stone, C Shine; A Coffey, G Egan, J Dolan; A Caul, F Burke, J Mulligan. Subs: T Rahill for Maleady (15), C Duggan for Stone (h-t), J McGivney for Caul (h-t), C Tighe for Kerins (48), P Masterson for Coffey (60).
Ref – F Kelly (Longford).