Grogan stretches Westmeath's losing streak
WESTMEATH slumped to a 14th successive league defeat yesterday as Tipperary won the battle of Division 2's relegated teams at Semple Stadium.
There was only pride to play for in Thurles but Westmeath's long search for a league win now stretches back to the 2008 Division 2 final victory against Dublin.
The Lake men lost all seven of their Division 1 games last season and yesterday's six-point defeat ensured that Brendan Hackett's team ended another season pointless.
Tipp, despite making the drop back to Division 3, can look back on their campaign with some pride, having defeated Westmeath and Meath and claimed a draw against Down in Newry.
However, narrow defeats against Laois and Donegal cost the Premier County dear as boss John Evans now turns his thoughts towards next Saturday's Cadbury All-Ireland U21 semi-final showdown with Donegal.
A former U-21 star, Barry Grogan, was the hero for the seniors yesterday as his 1-7 haul, including 1-4 from play, proved decisive in front of fewer than 100 spectators.
Local club hurling games and the already sealed fate of both sides before throw-in was reflected in the dismal attendance but the teams produced some decent fare.
Westmeath scored a goal after six minutes when Philip Gilsenan, a late call-up in place of Fergal Wilson, collected an astute Martin Flanagan pass before blasting a fine shot past Paul Fitzgerald from 14 yards.
Seven minutes before half-time, George Hannigan's well-taken goal helped Tipp to lead by 1-6 to 1-4 at the break and when Grogan finished soccer-style to the net six minutes after the restart, the hosts looked home and hosed.
But Westmeath rallied and a run of five unanswered points, including two from the newly introduced Wilson, cut the gap back to the bare minimum.
Tipp, though, hit back with five of the game's remaining six points to claim another noteworthy victory, with just five weeks to go before Kerry visit Thurles for the Munster SFC quarter-final.
Scorers -- Tipperary: B Grogan 1-7 (0-3f), P Austin 0-3, G Hannigan 1-0, B Fox 0-2, E Kearney 0-1. Westmeath: P Gilsenan 1-1, F Wilson 0-3 (0-1f), G Flanagan 0-2 (0-2 '45s), D McDermott, S O'Donoghue, D Duffy, P Greville (0-1f) 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY -- P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, N Curran; E Kearney, R Costigan, C Aylward; G Hannigan, L O'Gorman; B Fox, R O'Dwyer, B Mulvihill; P Austin, K Mulryan, B Grogan. Subs: J Cagney for Mulvihill (h/t), B Coen for O'Dwyer (h/t), B Jones for Morrissey (h/t), H Coghlan for O'Gorman (50), C Morrissey for Aylward (70).
WESTMEATH -- S Gallagher; C Jordan, D O'Donoghue, J Gaffey; D McDermott, S O'Donoghue, M Ennis; D Duffy, G Flanagan; J Smyth, P Greville, A Fennell; P Gilsenan, M Flanagan, A Finnan. Subs: G Glennon for Duffy (h/t), F Wilson for Finnan (48), G Hoey for Fennell (48), D Healy for Hoey (59).
Ref -- S Doyle (Wexford).