Sharry leads fightback as Westmeath pull off great escape
A remarkable second-half turnaround in which they outscored Derry by 1-12 to 0-2 saw Westmeath maintain their second-tier status in style at Mullingar yesterday.
The Oak Leaf men had the advantage of a slight wind in the first half and they generally looked the better side, with Paddy Bradley proving a particular handful for the home defence.
The full-forward had contributed four points when Derry led by 0-8 to 0-1 with 34 minutes gone.
However, late points from John Heslin and Kieran Martin gave Westmeath real hope at the interval, despite trailing by 0-8 to 0-3.
Referee Martin Sludden issued 13 yellow cards overall (nine to Westmeath) but the second yellow received by Derry's centre half-back Dermot McBride in the 40th minute was a huge lift to the home team, who took control from that moment on.
With teenager Heslin lording the midfield exchanges and his club colleague Paul Sharry prominent as an attacking centre-back, a string of points followed.
The best of those came from Denis Glennon in the 54th minute to put his side ahead for the first time (0-11 to 0-10).
Five minutes later, substitute James Dolan, making his first appearance of the league campaign following his Garrycastle commitments, bundled the ball to the net, and Westmeath always looked the likely winners thereafter.
Another replacement, Callum McCormack, kicked two terrific points against John Brennan's deflated outfit.
Man of the Match: Paul Sharry (Westmeath)
Scorers -- Westmeath: J Heslin (4f), K Martin 0-4 each, Denis Glennon 0-3, J Dolan 1-0, C McCormack 0-2, D McDermott, P Sharry 0-1 each. Derry: Paddy Bradley 0-4 (1f), S L McGoldrick 0-2, R Scott, B McGoldrick, E Lynn, C O'Boyle (f) 0-1 each.
Westmeath -- G Connaughton 6; M Curley 5, A Finnan 6, K Maguire 7; D McDermott 7, P Sharry 8, B Moran 6; J Heslin 7, P Bannon 6; K Martin 7, G Egan 6, R Foley 5; Denis Glennon 7, David Glennon 6, M Ennis 5. Subs: C McCormack 7 for Ennis (46),
J Dolan 7 for Foley (52).
Derry -- B Gillis 6; B McCallion 6, C McKaigue 6, A McAlynn 5; R Scott 6, D McBride 4, S L McGoldrick 6; B McGoldrick 6, P.J. McCloskey 6; Patsy Bradley 6, M Lynch 6, E Brown 6; C O'Boyle 6, Paddy Bradley 7, E Lynn 6. Subs: E Bradley 6 for Brown (45), C Kielt 6 for B McGoldrick (48), E McGuckin 6 for O'Boyle (57), E Scullion for McCallion (60), L Moore for Lynn (68).
Ref -- M Sludden (Tyrone).