Zero rewards for 490-minute goal lock-out
Published 13/04/2016 | 02:30
Westmeath hurlers' aversion to conceding goals continued last weekend, but it wasn't enough to take them into Division 1.
Still, their feat in not conceding any goals in seven successive 1B games (London, Derry, Antrim, Kildare, Carlow (twice), and Laois) deserves recognition.
That's eight hours 10 mins without goalkeeper, Paddy Maloney having to pick the ball out of the net.
Even at a time when the goal rate is dropping, it's still quite remarkable that a team kept a clean sheet in 490 minutes. Their average giveaway in six 2A outings was just over 12 points per game but almost doubled to 23 points against Laois in the play-off to decide 1B /2A placings next year.
Laois won by seven points, their only victory in seven games. Still, it was enough to retain a place in 1B under a system that offered them double indemnity against relegation.
They had already lost to Kerry in a play-off but got a second chance against the 2A winners. Their seven-point win over Michael Ryan's men will be used to justify the case for offering 1B stragglers every chance of avoiding the drop, but that's not the point.
Divisional winners - at whatever level - should be promoted and thus allowed to test themselves at a higher level over a full League season.