Smyth's magic seals unlikely triumph
Rank outsiders Raharney struck a significant blow for Westmeath hurling when they deservedly ousted Offaly champions Coolderry at Cusack Park, Mullingar yesterday afternoon.
The losers looked the better team throughout the first half, but they failed to convert a number of decent goal chances and also shot some poor wides -- eight to the winners' one in the opening half-hour.
However, despite being generally outplayed by Coolderry, for whom Brian Carroll and Kevin Connolly were a constant threat, Raharney managed to edge in front by the 25th minute and were still well in contention at the break, trailing by just two points, 0-10 to 0-8.
Within three minutes of the resumption, the Westmeath champions were on level terms.
The tit-for-tat scoring continued throughout the third quarter and the sides were level on 0-13 each with 12 minutes of normal time remaining -- an inspirational point from Brian Smyth levelling the scoring following courageous defending by the Westmeath champions.
Raharney's increased self-belief was now evident throughout the pitch and a fine point from Cormac Boyle and a huge free from Brian Connaughton put the home side two points to the good.
In the 50th minute Damien Murray had to be content with a point when his shot for a goal from a close-range free flew over the Raharney crossbar.
Indeed, the Offaly men failed to score for the remainder of the contest, as they went all out in search of what would be a match-saving goal.
Raharney's defence excelled in the closing stages and further points from John Shaw, from a disputed free and another great score from Smyth sealed a most memorable win for the Lake County representatives.
Raharney now face Oulart-The Ballagh from Wexford in the penultimate round at the same venue on Sunday week.
Scorers -- Raharney: J Shaw 0-7 (0-4f), B Smyth 0-4, B Connaughton (0-2f), C Boyle, B McKeogh 0-2 each. Coolderry: D Murray 0-6 (0-5f), B Carroll 0-3, K Connolly 0-2, E Ryan, K Brady, C Parlon 0-1 each.
Raharney -- A Doyle; R McKeogh, C Jordan, D Carey; T Doyle, B Connaughton, A Giles; N Flanagan, C Flanagan; C Boyle, J Shaw, B Smyth; B McKeogh, P Greville, D Riggs. Subs: F Boyle for Riggs (42), J Boyle for B McKeogh (48) .
Coolderry -- S Corcoran; A Corcoran, T Corcoran, B Kelly; D King, J Brady, K Brady; B Carroll, K Teehan; D Murray, B Teehan M Corcoran; E Ryan, C Parlon, K Connolly. Subs: P Teehan for Ryan (44), B O'Meara for M Corcoran (45), M Ryan for K Teehan (51), B Larkin for King (55), D Masterson for A Corcoran (60) .
Ref -- J Owens (Wexford) .