Monday 22 January 2018

Martin goal fires Cribbin's men to Royal appointment

Westmeath 1-21 Wexford 0-15 Leinster SFC quarter-final

Kieran Martin, Westmeath, in action against Naomhan Rossiter, Wexford
Kieran Martin, Westmeath, in action against Naomhan Rossiter, Wexford
Kevin O'Grady, Wexford, in action against Lorcan Smith, Westmeath
Kieran Martin, Westmeath, in action against Joey Wadding, Wexford
Kevin O'Grady, Wexford, in action against Lorcan Smith, Westmeath
Kieran Martin, Westmeath, in action against Brian Malone, Wexford

Wexford manager David Power admitted he was 'sick' after seeing his side fall asunder in the last ten minutes, but predicted big things for Wexford down the line.

A goal ten minutes from time from Kieran Martin and a rush of nine points in a row thereafter gave Westmeath a convincing win, but after seeing his side fail to win a Leinster Championship match for the first time in five seasons, Power remained bright about the future.

"Overall, I can't have any complaints," said Power. "Where we were we are definitely going in the right direction. I am sick, I am a positive person though. I'm sick for the players that we had that game in one hand and we just couldn't get over the line.

"But as a group of players and management we can definitely go on now in the right direction. We've got nothing to fear playing Down in two weeks.

"I suppose with ten minutes to go we were 0-14 to 0-12 up and the goal was ultimately the game-changer.

"We had the ball coming out of defence and that's what's really sickening. I thought we had the game won if we got one more score, I thought the game was ours really to be honest.

"But the goal changed it and they took over. They got a lift from the goal and with such a young team that we have they dropped their heads a tiny bit," said Power.

Martin's strike certainly lifted the belief in Westmeath. They got a smell of the win and suddenly they could kick points for fun.

In the space of one minute in the closing stages the entire half-back line of Paul Sharry, John Gilligan and James Dolan all kicked amazing points. Denis Glennon came of the bench and split the posts from the corner, while Ger Egan and John Heslin also found their range.

Manager Tom Cribbin thinks there is huge talent in his squad and even when they looked dead on their feet with 12 minutes to go, he thought they'd kick again.

"We had good subs to come on and we knew we had strong leaders out there. You were waiting for them to stand up and they did to their credit.

"We were due a rub of the green too. We were after missing three or four serious goal chances and I think when you keep creating them like that, you are going to take one of them eventually. It was obvious whoever got that goal and took it was going to go on to the win," said Cribbin.

Since Westmeath's relegation to Division 3 and Tom Cribbin's public declaration that his senior players were not trying hard enough, his side have impressed with wins over Louth and Wexford to reach the semi-final.


But from here on in the opposition gets a little tougher, but with the county one step away from its first Leinster final since their 2004 glory under Páidí ó Sé, there is reason to be positive again.

In truth, Westmeath would have been disgusted with themselves had they not emerged victorious. For most of the first half they looked unstoppable at times as Martin and Shane Dempsey kicked some sweet points, while Paddy Holloway, Paul Sharry and James Dolan all broke well out of defence to launch attacks.

The home side led by 0-9 to 0-8 at the break, but Wexford would have been very happy to have stayed that close to their hosts.

Westmeath held a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after ten minutes, but with Ciaran Lyng in good form from frees and Colm Kehoe shining, Wexford held on.

The home side was rocked by a black card for Ray Connellan just before half-time, but referee Fergal Kelly also dished black to Kehoe five minutes after the break, which was a big loss for the Yellow Bellies.

But, despite that setback, Wexford went on to dominate the third quarter. Points from Lyng, the superb Adrian Flynn and a brace from Kevin O'Grady saw them race into a 0-14 to 0-12 lead.

But ten minutes from time John Heslin turned over possession for Westmeath and via Ger Egan, Martin rattled the net from close range to floor Wexford.

In the end, the winning margin flattered Westmeath, but Power will hope to pick his side up for the visit of Down in two weekends' time.

Westmeath and Cribbin will be quietly confident of pushing a Meath side that struggled against Wicklow. With their own blend of youthful exuberance added to the experienced players finally pulling their weight they could thrive at Croke Park.

Scorers - Westmeath: K Martin 1-2, J Heslin 0-5 (4f), S Dempsey 0-4, J Connellan, G Egan, D Glennon 0-2, D Daly, J Dolan, J Gilligan, P Sharry 0-1. Wexford: C Lyng 0-8 (6f), A Flynn, K O'Grady 0-2, C Kehoe, B Brosnan (1f), J Wadding 0-1.

Westmeath - D Quinn 7; K Daly 6, K Maguire 8, P Holloway 8; P Sharry 8, J Gilligan 8, J Dolan 8; G Egan 7, D Daly 7; R Foley 7, R Connellan 7, D Corroon 8; K Martin 9, J Heslin 8, S Dempsey 8.

Subs: J Connellan 8 for R Connellan (BC, 33), L Smith 7 for Foley (46), D Glennon 7 for D Daly (50), J Donohoe 7 for Maguire (BC, 55), D Lynch for Martin (68), F Boyle for Gilligan (70+1).

Wexford - S Roche 7; J Wadding 7, N Rossiter 8, M Furlong 7; B Malone 8, S Donohoe 7, A Flynn 9; S Byrne 8, C Kehoe 8; K Butler 7, B Brosnan 5, T Rossiter 7; E Nolan 6, C Lyng 8, K O'Grady 8. Subs: R Tierney 8 for Furlong (16), P Byrne 7 for Kehoe (BC, 40), J Tubritt 7 for Nolan (47), M O'Regan 6 for T Rossiter (52), G Molloy 6 for Flynn (60).

Ref - F Kelly (Longford)

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