Cooney 'delighted' as Lake men survive fightback
Westmeath 2-13 Limerick 1-10
Westmeath manager Jack Cooney said he was "delighted" to see his troops progress into the third round after a deserved, if somewhat laboured, win over Limerick at Mullingar's Cusack Park on Saturday.
Goals either side of half-time effectively won the day for the home team. The first came via wing-back, but regular goal-scorer, James Dolan, who hit the net after a trademark surging run in added-time.
"James' goal helped us to finish the first-half well and it gave us a commanding lead," Cooney said, as the home team led by 1-9 to 0-5 at the break.
The second-half was only 30 seconds old when fine approach work by Ger Egan - as ever, a cornerstone of Westmeath's win - the lively Tommy McDaniel and full-back Ronan Wallace teed up newcomer Joe Halligan for a powerful finish.
"Joe's learning his trade well and I'm very happy with that," Cooney stated.
The hosts now led by 10 points and were set for a facile win, but the gap was reduced to four by the 63rd minute courtesy of a scrambled goal by the outstanding Darragh Treacy, followed by points from Seamus O'Carroll and a converted free by goalkeeper Donal O'Sullivan.
However, a sublime point from John Heslin - the' marquee player was sprung from the bench in the 39th minute - and an Egan free sealed the win for the Lake County.
Understandably, Cooney was concerned about Limerick's comeback.
"After Joe's goal at the start of the second-half, probably what happened was that lads collectively sat back and said, 'this is going to happen naturally', and they just stopped working. That's something that we'll address."
Cooney was not looking at the possibility of reaching the 'Super 8s'.
"We're not really thinking about that to be honest. We need to improve on that performance if we have any ambitions to go any further than next weekend. We're realistic about that, but I think that improvement is in us."
His opposite number Billy Lee was philosophical, stating: "We had to be smart in how we approached the first 20 minutes. We had to be really cautious today and it was grand. Then, all of a sudden, we cough up balls and we go in 1-9 to 0-5 down instead.
"If we threw caution to the wind in the first 20 minutes and the game was over at that stage, wouldn't you be all saying, 'what kind of a clown is he?'"
SCORERS - Westmeath: G Egan 0-6 (3f); J Dolan, J Halligan 1-0 each; C McCormack, R O'Toole 0-2 each; T McDaniel, K Martin, J Heslin 0-1 each. Limerick: J Lee 0-6 (5f); D Treacy 1-0; G Brown, I Corbett, S O'Carroll, D O'Sullivan 0-1 each.
Westmeath - E Carberry 6; B Sayeh 8, R Wallace 7, K Maguire 6; K Daly 6, J Smith 6, J Dolan 7; D Corroon 6, K Martin 6; D Lynch 6, C McCormack 6, J Halligan 6; T McDaniel 7, G Egan 7, R O'Toole 6. Subs: J Heslin 6 for McDaniel (39), S Duncan 6 for Daly (49), N O'Reilly 6 for O'Toole (59), N Mulligan n/r for McCormack (65), F Boyle n/r for Halligan (70 + 2).
Limerick - D O'Sullivan 5; B Fanning 6, S O'Dea 6, C McSweeney 5; G Brown 6, I Corbett 6, C Fahy; D Treacy 8, T Childs 6; T McCarthy 6, M Fitzgibbon 6, J Naughton 6; P de Brún 5, S O'Carroll 6, J Lee 7. Subs: A Enright 6 for de Brún (43), S McSweeney 6 for C McSweeney (49), P Nash 6 for Naughton (59), P Scanlon n/r for Lee (67), G Noonan n/r for Brown (67), T Griffin n/r for O'Carroll (70).
Ref - J Molloy (Galway).