Westmeath give Kingdom a reality check
Westmeath 1-18 Kerry 1-13
Westmeath might have been trailing at half-time in this Leinster SHC round robin clash in Tralee, but they blitzed Kerry during a ten-minute purple patch on the resumption and laid the foundations for a crucial win.
Though Kerry led 1-8 to 0-7 at half-time thanks to Mikey Boyle's 13th-minute goal, Westmeath always looked the more likely winners as their defensive game plan squeezed the life out of Kerry who managed just five second-half points. In the same period, Westmeath hit 1-11 with Derek McNicholas scoring a goal out of nothing in the 46th minute, after yet another Kerry unforced error in defence.
Kerry failed to build on their half-time lead and early second half errors led to the Kingdom leaking 1-4 by the 45th minute and it was game over, a fact not lost on Kerry boss Ciaran Carey.
"We played extremely well in the first half, and then four unforced errors in the first ten minutes of the second half cost us the game. Our unforced errors today were through the roof. After that we were probably playing against ten defenders at that stage and we lost our shape against so many bodies and that was always going to happen against a system like Westmeath's."
Westmeath boss Michael Ryan was not pleased with their first-half display. "I was delighted with our second-half performance as I felt that we had not done ourselves justice in the first half. I felt our first touch left us down and I felt our shot selection was poor. We needed to take our chances from out the field when they arose and our two midfielders scored 0-5 which was the winning margin.
"We targeted the start of the second half because we were four down and if Kerry tacked on two or three points straight away, it might be very difficult to peg them back.
Kerry suffered a major blow when star attacker Boyle got a straight red in the dying embers of the contest which incensed the Kerry boss. "Some of the decisions that went against us today were unbelievable," insisted Carey.
SCORERS - Westmeath: D McNicholas 1-3; N O'Brien 0-5 (4f); C Boyle 0-3, E Price 0-2, A Clarke, A Devine, R Greville, L Varley and B Murtagh 0-1 each. Kerry: S Nolan 0-4 (4f), M Boyle 1-1, J Goulding, P Lucid (2f) and B O'Leary 0-2 each, J Egan and B Barrett 0-1 each.
KERRY - A McCabe; B Murphy, P Kelly, K Carmody; J Diggins, D Dineen, T Murnane; J Griffin, D Collins; B O'Leary, M O'Leary, S Nolan; J Goulding, M Boyle, J Egan. Subs: P Lucid for S Nolan (h-t), J Conway for M O'Leary (45), T Casey for J Griffin (56), ); B Barrett for J Goulding (60), J Buckley for D Collins (64).
WESTMEATH - P Maloney; S Power, T Doyle, T Gallagher; A Craig, G Greville, A Clarke; C Boyle, E Price; A Devine, D McNicholas, R Greville; L Varley, D Egerton, N O'Brien.
Subs: N Mitchell for T Gallagher (25), B Murtagh for D Egerton (58), W Casserly for Alan Devine (67), D Clinton for E Price (70), A McGrath for D McNicholas (72), C Shaw for S Power (75).
Ref - J Keenan (Wicklow)