Bray cuts loose as Royals brush aside flimsy Westmeath challenge
Meath 0-17 Westmeath 0-5 Allianz NFL Division 2
Meath were never remotely troubled by Westmeath in a very disappointing clash at Mullingar yesterday.
The Royals, whose fans far outnumbered the home supporters in the crowd of 2,000, dominated right from the start with a point after 12 seconds from Cian Ward and two more from Stephen Bray (the second from a free) inside eight minutes.
The hosts finally opened their account when full-forward Kieran Martin (one of very few Westmeath players to make any kind of impression) pointed a very difficult free.
The one-way traffic continued throughout the first half with a rampant Meath forward division getting a plentiful supply of ball from the dynamic midfielder partnership of Brian Meade and Mark Ward.
At the other end, Westmeath were living off scraps and only managed two points from play throughout the opening half.
The winners were full value for their six-point lead at the break (0-10 to 0-4).
The trend continued on the change of ends as the home team struggled in most departments, while Meath continued to pick off some fine points, with Bray and Seamus Kenny always menacing whenever the ball came their way.
An outclassed Westmeath were reduced to 14 men when veteran defender Michael Ennis was sent off for a second yellow-card offence in the 53rd minute.
This also signalled the springing of Meath legend Graham Geraghty from the bench.
And it took a wonderful late save from former All-Star goalkeeper Gary Connaughton to keep out a sublime lobbed effort from the 38-year-old forward, after he had taken a pass from another high-profile substitute, Joe Sheridan.
However, there never looked to be the slightest danger of a meaningful Westmeath comeback, with Meath garnering the handiest two league points they have picked up in quite some time.
Man of the Match -- Stephen Bray (Meath)
Scorers - Meath: S Bray 0-5 (2f), G Reilly 0-3, B Meade, C Ward (1 '45) 0-2 each, S McAnarney, C McGuinness, M Ward, S Kenny, C Lenihan 0-1 each. Westmeath: K Martin 0-2 (1f), M Ennis, A Giles (f), C McCormack 0-1 each.
Meath: D Gallagher 6; B Menton 6, C Lenihan 6, G O'Brien 6; S McAnarney 7, M Burke 7, C McGuinness 6; B Meade 7, M Ward 7; C O'Connor 6, S Bray 8, G Reilly 7; P Gilsenan 6, S Kenny 7, C Ward 6. Subs: J Sheridan 6 for C Ward (44), G Geraghty 6 for Gilsenan (54), K Reilly 6 for O'Brien (60), D Tobin 6 for Lenihan (62), C King n/r for Burke (68).
Westmeath: G Connaughton 8; A Finnan 5, K Gavin 7, D McDermott 7; R Foley 6, M Ennis 6, K Maguire 5; T English 5, P Bannon 5; P Sharry 6, D Glennon 5, P Sheridan 5; A Giles 5, K Martin 7, C McCormack 5. Subs: D Daly 5 for English (43), K Sheridan 5 for Bannon (47), M Gorman 5 for Giles (49), B Moran 5 for Glennon (57), A Stone 5 for Sharry (60).
Ref -- E Kinsella (Laois).