Canning saves Galway blushes
GALWAY 4-17 WESTMEATH 2-14
Westmeath came close to the shock of the century at Cusack Park last night before Galway rallied in the closing stages to reach the Leinster semi-final.
A disputed John Shaw effort levelled the match going into the final quarter as Galway were forced to draft in Joe Canning to save their blushes.
Canning tacked on three late frees but, in fairness, Galway had responded well before that and hit six points without reply to kill off the spirited challenge of Westmeath.
This performance will do wonders for Westmeath and their young manager from Galway Brian Hanley but they might have taken their biggest scalp ever had they not shot 15 wides. They were the better side in the opening half but still trailed by 2-7 to 1-7 at the break, with Derek McNicholas flicking home their goal.
Galway's inability to win puckouts from either goalkeeper will surely be a major worry and Westmeath exploited this flaw, not least wing-back Eoin Price who won several efforts from Galway goalkeeper James Skehill.
In the end Cyril Donnellan rescued Galway with a great hat-trick but he was one of the few Tribesmen to emerge from this one undamaged.
Donnellan got his second goal eight minutes after the restart to pull six points ahead but they were hauled back when Paul Greville raced through for a stunning goal after 46 minutes.
They pushed on from there with Dan Carty and Brendan Murtagh finding the range before Shaw's controversial score levelled the game going into the final quarter, but then Galway hit six without reply.
Joe Canning tacked on three frees as Westmeath were left to rue 15 minutes on a night when they came so close to creating such a big shock.
Galway will need a radical improvement if they are to reach their first Leinster final when they take on Dublin in two weeks after struggling so badly against a Westmeath side who scarcely resembled a team who had lost all their division two league games.
Scorers - Galway: C Donnellan 3-1, A Callanan 1-1 (1f), D Hayes 0-4, J Canning (3f); D Burke (2f) 0-3 each, J Gantley 0-2, A Smith, B Daly, E Ryan 0-1 each; Westmeath: B Murtagh 0-5 (5f), P Greville 1-1, D McNicholas 1-0; D Carty 0-2, C Curley, B Smyth, E Price, A Mitchell ('65), P Dowdall, J Shaw 0-1 each.
Galway: J Skehill; D Joyce, D Collins, F Moore; J Coen, J Lee, A Cullinane; D Burke, K Hynes; B Daly, C Donnellan, A Smith; D Hayes, J Gantley, A Callanan. Subs: E Ryan for Smith (47); S Kavanagh for Cullinane (52); T Og Regan for Lee (54); J Canning for Callanan (57).
Westmeath: C Scally; C Flanagan, D McCormack, A McGrath; E Price, A Mitchell, P Gilsenan; N Flanagan, B Smyth; C Curley, P Greville, BMurtagh; J Shaw, D McNicholas, D Carty. Subs: A Price for C Flanagan (34), P Dowdall for N Flanagan (51), J Gilligan for McGrath (61); A Dermody for Carty (64); A Craig for McNicholas (71).
Sunday Indo Sport