Mayo move through gears to leave Westmeath on brink

Mayo 2-17 Westmeath 3-9

Lee Keegan, Mayo, in action against Doron Hart, Westmeath

Paul Sharry, Westmeath, in action against Jason Doherty, Mayo

Alan Freeman, Mayo, in action against Aidan O'Shea, Westmeath

thumbnail: Lee Keegan, Mayo, in action against Doron Hart, Westmeath
thumbnail: Paul Sharry, Westmeath, in action against Jason Doherty, Mayo
thumbnail: Alan Freeman, Mayo, in action against Aidan O'Shea, Westmeath

Despite producing a spirited second-quarter display, Westmeath moved ever nearer the relegation trapdoor when they lost by five points in front of 6,600 spectators in Mullingar.

Mayo's second win of the campaign seemed nailed on early in the contest.

Indeed, the Connacht men looked like they were in for the easiest of afternoons when they led by 2-4 to 0-1 after nine minutes.

The goals came from Lee Keegan in the third minute (after a quickly taken free from Mikie Sweeney) and six minutes later when Sweeney rifled the ball home with the home defence at sixes and sevens.

However, Paul Bealin's charges began to settle and were back in it when Kieran Martin fisted Jamie Gonoud's cross to the net in the 11th minute.

Fine freetaking from John Heslin kept them in touch and when Dessie Dolan set up his cousin James in the 32nd minute to score Westmeath's second goal, remarkably the sides were on level terms (2-7 apiece).

A point from the energetic Kieran Martin put the men in maroon and white in front at the break, a lead that had looked highly unlikely 20 minutes earlier.

Heslin doubled Westmeath's advantage with another fine free within two minutes of the restart, but that was good as it got for the midlanders, who went 33 minutes before their only other score of the second half.

James Horan's troops took over in most sectors of the pitch and the points flowed freely from play, while Alan Freeman converted a range of frees.

Indeed, the manager was able to bring on some high-profile substitutes as the second half progressed.

Three replacements got on the scoresheet – Brian Gallagher (two fine late efforts from play), David Drake (following a '45' in the 49th minute) and Cillian O'Connor (a delightful free in the 62nd minute).

Westmeath, who remain pointless after four games, had also conceded two early goals a week earlier in Derry, and their second-quarter heroics yesterday (when they played some outstanding football) had clearly taken its toll.

However, their overall efforts were rewarded when the outstanding James Dolan pounced for his second goal in the 70th minute, after John Heslin's initial shot was blocked.

Brian Gallagher's second point rounded off the scoring, leaving Mayo as comfortable winners, but they are unlikely to meet such a generous defence at the start of their remaining three games.

Scorers –Mayo: L Keegan 1-2, A Freeman 0-5 (3fs), M Sweeney 1-0, K McLoughlin 0-3 (1f), A O'Shea, B Gallagher 0-2 each, E Varley, D Drake, C O'Connor (f) 0-1 each. Westmeath: J Dolan 2-2, J Heslin 0-5 (5fs), K Martin 1-1, D Dolan 0-1.

MAYO – R Hennelly 5; B Harrison 6, G Cafferkey 6, K Keane 5; L Keegan 8, D Vaughan 7, C Boyle 6; A O'Shea 7, J Gibbons 6; K McLoughlin 7, J Doherty 6, K Higgins 6; E Varley 6, A Freeman 7, M Sweeney 6. Subs: D Drake 6 for Keane (h-t), C O'Connor 6 for Varley (44), S O'Shea 6 for Gibbons (52), M Conroy 6 for Sweeney (57), B Gallagher 7 for Doherty (61), C Carolan for Higgins (67).

WESTMEATH – D Quinn 7; S Gilmore 6, K Gavin 7, K Maguire 6; P Sharry 5, J Gilligan 6, J Gonoud 6; D Duffy 6, J Heslin 7; D Harte 5, G Egan 5, K Martin 7; D Glennon 5, J Dolan 8, D Dolan 7. Subs: D McCormack 6 for Harte (49), G Hoey 6 for Glennon (53), D Corroon 5 for Duffy (60).

REF – E Kinsella (Laois)