Power surge drags Cats out of danger
Kilkenny 1-23 Westmeath 1-16
A big finish which produced four points from man of the match John Power, and another from Ger Aylward, got 14-man Kilkenny through against determined Westmeath in this lively semi-final in Castlecomer yesterday.
The same Power cracked home a goal 30 seconds into the second half to help Kilkenny open an 11-point lead (1-15 to 0-7) and it looked like Westmeath were in for a hammering. However, Eamon Walsh was dismissed in the 41st minute for a second yellow card offence, and for a while afterwards the visitors took over.
Eight minutes from the end Westmeath, thanks to points from free-taker Brendan Murtagh, Cormac Boyle, Andrew Mitchell and Dan Carty, had the deficit back to two.
The Cats responded and Power got a free in the 65th minute, their first score in nearly 15 minutes. That lit the fuse and Kilkenny tacked on four more points while keeping the opposition scoreless to run out easy winners.
Again Kilkenny chose to field a development squad side. Manager Richie Mulrooney must have been thrilled with his charges, particularly the way they started and finished.
After Paul O'Flynn opened the scoring in the second minute, the winners added six more without reply before Westmeath got off the mark through Brendan Murtagh. The losers looked way out of their depth, but a pair of points from Brendan Murtagh nearing the end of the half gave them some hope when they went in for the rest 0-6 to 0-14 behind.
The sending-off changed the dynamic of the match but when the pressure was most intense the Power-inspired Cats lifted their game.
SCORERS -- Kilkenny: J Power 1-8 (6f), M Bergin 0-4, G Aylward 0-3, P O'Flynn, C Buckley, M Aylward 0-2 each, L Harney, P Walsh 0-1 each. Westmeath: B Murtagh 1-10 (1-8f), A Mitchell 0-3 (1f), D Fennell, C Boyle, D Carty 0-1 each.
Kilkenny -- D Walsh; J Corcoran, E Walsh, B Kennedy; P Walsh, W Phelan, J Holden; C Buckley, D McCormack; P O'Flynn, L Harney, M Bergin; M Aylward, J Power, G Aylward. Subs: M Gaffney for O'Flynn (h-t), C Tobin for D McCormack (46), S Phelan for Holden (46), R Reid for M Aylward (56).
Westmeath -- C Scally; P Fennelly, A Price, C Jordan; D Fennell, E Price, P Gilseain; P Dowdall, C Boyle; A Mitchell, F Boyle, P Greville; D Higgins, B Murtagh, J Shaw. Subs: A Dermody for D Higgins (22), D Carty for C Boyle (55), J Gilligan for A Dermody (55), D McCormack for Gilseain (57).
REF -- P Murphy (Carlow)