Tribes' quick brace breaks undaunted Westmeath
Galway 3-18 Westmeath 0-17
Three goals in the first quarter gave a largely experimental Galway side the cushion they needed to withstand a solid challenge from their hosts Westmeath in an entertaining Walsh Cup game at St Loman's, Mullingar yesterday afternoon.
Westmeath started brightly with two points from marquee forward Brendan Murtagh, the second of them a great score from play.
However, Jason Flynn latched onto Aidan Harte's through ball in the third minute to nudge the Tribesmen in front.
Michael Ryan's troops continued to take the game to their more high-profile opponents and four unanswered points - the best of them a terrific individual effort from Warren Casserly - had the midlanders deservedly ahead by the eighth minute.
Galway soon fired over three rapid-fire points to draw level, before pouncing for a brace of game-changing goals.
The first came from a penalty with Jason Flynn giving Paddy Maloney no chance after the goalkeeper had needlessly fouled Andrew Smith, while the second arrived in the 16th minute when what looked like an attempted pass by Niall Burke to the inrushing Richie Cummins ended up deceiving Maloney for a soft goal.
Galway went on to lead by 3-9 to 0-8 at the break.
Three early points from Murtagh - who also missed three chances during the same period - kept Westmeath in touch after the change of ends.
However, Michael O'Donoghue's charges always looked in control despite a very wholehearted display from the home team who scored some quality points, including a monster free from Liam Varley just past the hour mark and two delightful scores from play by Niall Dowdall.
Substitute Shane Moloney top-scored for the Connacht side in the second half with five points, three of them from open play and the other two from placed balls after taking over the free-taking duties when Flynn was replaced.
In truth, Westmeath never looked like getting through for a goal, but they would not have been flattered to have lost by significantly less than the final 10-point margin.
Scorers - Galway: J Flynn 2-2 (1-0pen, 0-2f); N Burke 1-2; S Moloney 0-5 (2f); E Burke 0-4; G McInerney 0-2; A Harte, A Smith, D Glennon 0-1 each. Westmeath: B Murtagh 0-9 (5f); N Dowdall, D Kilcoyne 0-2 each; W Casserly, L Varley (f), A Devine, L Cassidy 0-1 each.
Galway - J Keane; P Hoban, D Burke, P Claffey; S Morrisey, D Collins, K Hussey; A Harte, A Smith; E Burke, N Burke, G McInerney; R Cummins, J Flynn, D Glennon. Subs: S Moloney for Cummins (29), P Brehony for Hussey (48), I Tannian for Flynn (48), J Skehill for Keane (61), R Burke for D Burke (inj., 65).
Westmeath - P Maloney; S Power, A McGrath, K Duncan; A Craig, G Greville, F Burke; L Varley, W Casserly; A Devine, B Murtagh, N Dowdall; L Cassidy, D Kilcoyne, P Lynam. Subs: D Egerton for Cassidy (45), A Clarke for Burke (48), F Dowd for Devine (58), C Shaw for Power (inj, 69).
Ref: D Hughes (Carlow).