Sunday 24 September 2017

Waterford ready to get down to business

Waterford 3-22 Westmeath 0-14

Waterford’s Kevin Moran is the meat in the sandwich between Westmeath duo
Robbie Greville (right) and Derek McNicholas
Waterford’s Kevin Moran is the meat in the sandwich between Westmeath duo Robbie Greville (right) and Derek McNicholas

Waterford had their expected comfortable win at Cusack Park, but Westmeath earned many plaudits for a gutsy display, particularly in a wind-assisted first half when they were marginally the better team.

Waterford had their expected comfortable win at Cusack Park, but Westmeath earned many plaudits for a gutsy display, particularly in a wind-assisted first half when they were marginally the better team.

Deise fans have endured an expensive eight days, travelling to the midlands twice in quick succession to support their heroes.

After their narrow win in Tullamore a week earlier, the trip to nearby Mullingar was expected to be just a light warm-up ahead of meaningful games against the country's elite teams.

However, the men in maroon and white – who featured 11 U-21 players in this entertaining contest – had different ideas, and the fire in their bellies was clear in a tempestuous start which saw four players (two from each side) booked in two separate incidents with less than three minutes elapsed.

Westmeath's marquee forward Derek McNicholas opened the scoring with a splendid long-range point, and, with veteran Brendan Murtagh also showing the way, the home team were full value for their three-point lead (0-5 to 0-2) after 16 minutes, during which their tackling was tenacious throughout the pitch.

This lead was still intact (0-9 to 0-6) with a half-hour elapsed when Brian O'Sullivan found the net in style for Waterford, after being teed up by Seamus Prendergast.

The sides were level at the break (0-10 to 1-7) – with Maurice Shanahan's four converted frees of great benefit to the Munster side – but really the midlanders should have been in the lead.

On the change of ends, early points from Prendergast, O'Sullivan and Shanahan (another free) set the tone for a largely one-sided second period. Westmeath sub Tommy Doyle kept his side in touch with a fine solo point but the winners' better stickwork began to show and they quickly added five unanswered points, the best of those from Shanahan in the 46th minute.

The Decies were seven points to the good when O'Sullivan pounced for his second goal in the 53rd minute, having been set up by sub Gavin O'Brien.

The introduction of the fourth Waterford sub, Tony Browne (two days before his 40th birthday) with an hour on the clock drew the biggest cheer of the day from the large travelling support. With the fans in white and blue cheering his every move, Browne came very close to finding the target in the 64th minute, when the game was already long over as a contest.

Westmeath continued to plug away and deserved a closer outcome, with players like McNicholas, Eoin Price, Robbie Greville and Adam Price not looking at all out of place at this level.

Indeed, Shanahan's opportunist goal (from the rebound after Peter Collins had denied O'Sullivan a hat-trick) came in the dying seconds of what was always going to be a no-win game for the visitors.

SCORERS – Waterford: M Shanahan 1-9 (0-5fs), B O'Sullivan 2-2, S Prendergast 0-3, K Moran, J Dillon 0-2 each, S Fives, D Fives, S O'Sullivan, J Barron 0-1 each. Westmeath: D McNicholas 0-6 (4fs), B Murtagh 0-3, E Price 0-2, A Clarke, J Shaw, T Doyle 0-1 each.

WATERFORD – S O'Keeffe 7; S Fives 7, L Lawlor 6, N Connors 6; D Fives 6, M Walsh 6, R Barry 6; R Foley 6, K Moran 7; M Shanahan 8, P Mahony 6, S O'Sullivan 6; J Dillon 7, S Prendergast 7, B O'Sullivan 7. Subs: G O'Brien 6 for Mahony (53), E Barrett 6 for D Fives (55), D Twomey 6 for Foley (57), T Browne 6 for Barry (61), J Barron 6 for Dillon (63).

WESTMEATH – P Collins 6; L Varley 6, T Gallagher 5, P Fennell 7; D Fennell 6, A McGrath 6, A Price 7; E Price 7, R Greville 7; B Murtagh 6, J Shaw 6, D McNicholas 7; N O'Brien 5, J Boyle 5, A Clarke 6. Subs: T Doyle 7 for Shaw (inj, 38), G Greville 6 for Gallagher (49), A Craig for O'Brien (65), S Power for R Greville (65), T Egan for Varley (66).

Ref – D Kirwan (Cork)

Irish Independent

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