Waterford 3-22 Westmeath 1-14 THERE were no surprises at Cusack Park, Mullingar, yesterday as Waterford opened their qualifying campaign with a 14-point victory over Westmeath.
After a decent showing against Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final, Westmeath again kept the scoreline respectable.
Waterford built a 0-7 to 0-2 lead by the 18th minute, with midfielder Dave Bennett in fine scoring form, while Ken McGrath's deliveries to the forwards created chances.
Waterford's first goal arrived in the 22nd minute when a long-range McGrath free found the net. A square ball was suspected, but the goal stood.
John Mullane, on his return from injury, raised Waterford's second green flag after 26 minutes to nudge his side ahead by 2-11 to 0-4, and the Decies turned over leading by 2-14 to 0-6.
Westmeath raised their game on the restart. The sides exchanged four points each before Westmeath gave their supporters some hope with a 49th-minute goal from a penalty by Brendan Murtagh, following a foul on Joseph Clarke.
Westmeath needed another but Justin McCarthy's side kept daylight between the the sides.
Westmeath 'keeper Mark Briody was forced into an excellent save by substitute Jack Kennedy, who was later sent off after receiving his second yellow card.
Westmeath pressed hard for a consolation goal, but it was Waterford who netted their third in injury-time. Bennett and Mullane did the spadework and Dan Shanahan finished.
Man of the Match: Dave Bennett (Waterford).
SCORERS - Waterford: D Bennett 0-7 (0-4f); K McGrath 1-3 (1-1f, 0-1 '65); D Shanahan and J Mullane 1-2 each; S O'Sullivan 0-3, E McGrath 0-2, M Walsh, T Browne and J Kennedy 0-1 each. Westmeath: J Shaw 0-5 (0-2f); B Murtagh 1-1 (1-0 pen); D Carty 0-3; A Mitchell 0-2 (0-2f); B Kennedy, E Loughlin and D McNicholas 0-1 each.
WATERFORD - C Hennessy; E Murphy, T Feeney, D Coffey; T Browne, J Murray, B Phelan; K McGrath, D Bennett; D Shanahan, S Prendergast, S O'Sullivan; J Mullane, M Walsh, E McGrath. Subs: J Kennedy for S Prendergast h/t; D Prendergast for Phelan 48; A Kearney for Coffey 59; P O'Brien for O'Sullivan 62; K Moran for Browne 65.
WESTMEATH - M Briody; C Jordan, C Murtagh, P Greville; J Shaw, D McCormack, N Gavin; G Gavin, E Loughlin; D Devine, B Murtagh, A Mitchell; B Kennedy, D Carty, J Clarke. Subs: D McNicholas for Devine 30; P Gilsenan for Mitchell 38; B Smyth for Kennedy 43; D Faulkner for Clarke 60; JP Murray for N Gavin 63.
REF - E Morris (Dublin).