Westmeath give survival hopes a massive boost with win over Limerick
Westmeath 3-14 Limerick 0-7
Two James Dolan goals in three first-half minutes have give Westmeath’s chances of surviving relegation to Division 4 a major boost after this win over Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds.
Westmeath were convincing winners in this one as the home side failed to live with the strength and skill of their visitors, while Limerick never clicked in attack either.
Coming into this game neither side had picked up a win – they had both drawn with Tipperary – but now Limerick must hope to take something from a trip north to face Sligo and do likewise when the host Offaly on the final day.
Defeats to Clare, Sligo and Clare had left Tom Cribbin’s side in their relegation predicament, but last night they looked more like the powerful outfit that got to last year’s Leinster final.
Shane Dempsey got them up and running after five minutes play, and frees from Heslin and Ray Connellan had them 0-3 to 0-0 ahead after 13 minutes play.
Ian Ryan got Limerick off the mark with a 15th minute free – he landed three before the break – but from there Westmeath cut Limerick to ribbons.
Dolan made the most of a mix up at the back to score his first goal following a pass form Callum McCormack in the 18th minute, and three minutes later he finished to the bottom corner when one-on-one with Donal O’Sullivan.
And nine minutes from the break Heslin drove through the heart of the Limerick defence, exchanged passes with Dempsey and was left with an easy flick to the net for the third goal.
A couple of frees from Ryan and a great effort from skipper Iain Corbett got Limerick back on the front foot, but Westmeath were good value for their 3-7 to 0-5 lead at the break.
The majority of the 1,902 spectators were hoping for a bright start to the second period from the home side, but instead in came from Westmeath as Kieran Martin and Dempsey both kicked good points from play to stretch their lead to 13 points.
Heslin was given plenty of space and time to kick first point from play in the 50th minute and in the closing stages Westmeath eased away from Limerick.
Callum McCormack impressed with five points to his hame by the final whistle, but the midlanders face sterner tests if they are to avoid the drop..
Scorers – Westmeath: J Heslin 1-4 (3f), J Dolan 2-0, C McCormack 0-5, K Martin 0-2, S Dempsey 0-2, R Connellan 0-1 (1f).
Limerick: I Ryan 0-3 (3f), P Nash 0-2 (1f), T Lee, I Corbett 0-1.
Westmeath – D Quinn; F Boyle, K Maguire; D Lynch, K Martin, P Holloway; D Corroon, P Sharry; R Connellan, J Heslin, J Dolan; J Connellan, C McCormack, S Dempsey.
Subs: R Foley for J Connellan (24), J Egan for Foley (58), P Greville for Martin (58), S Daly for R Connellan (60), A Stone for Boyle (63), J Donoghue for Lynch (66).
Limerick – D O’Sullivan; S O’Dea, S Flanagan, J McCarthy; M Donovan, P Browne, I Corbett; T Lee, D Tracey; P Ranahan, C Sheehan, S Buckley; S McSweeney, D Neville, I Ryan.
Subs: K Ryan for Buckley (6), S Cahill for White (32), P Nash for Ranahan (h-t), K Fahy for Flanagan (h-t), J Lee for Ryan (54), S Kelly for McSweeney (56 BC),
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).