Westmeath win a collector's item for new boss Cribbin
Westmeath 3-11 DCU 2-13
Westmeath finally ended their long wait for a victory in a competitive fixture with this narrow win over DCU at a chilly Kinnegad last night.
After 15 defeats on the trot, this was Westmeath's first competitive game since the summer of 2013 and comes as a welcome boost to new manager Tom Cribbin.
Westmeath got off to a perfect start when wing-back James Dolan fired the ball into the DCU net just 15 seconds after throw-in. On 24 minutes, a second goal from Ger Egan - whose shot looped over DCU keeper Tadhg Lowe - gave Westmeath a 2-3 to 0-4 lead.
But DCU looked slick going forward, and with their 2014 Dublin U-21 star Conor McHugh to the fore, they looked capable of punishing Westmeath on the break. And so it proved, in the 35th minute Westmeath lost the ball coming out of defence and after Darren Quinn was unable to gather a high ball, DCU took advantage with Conor McNally slapping the ball to the net.
Westmeath's other scores in the first half came from Ray Connellan - including a majestic point from play - and Egan - a pointed free - leaving the home side leading 2-5 to 1-6 at half-time.
Two points from the classy McHugh brought the sides level six minutes of the restart. But the hosts replied immediately when James Dolan cut through the rearguard and, though his shot was saved by Lowe, Lorcan Smyth slid the ball home from the rebound. A fisted point followed from the industrious Egan, before McHugh landed a free.
As the entertaining duel continued, Davy Byrne fisted to the ball to the Westmeath net in the 50th minute, after lax defending.
Egan and McHugh swapped points from frees, before Egan put the home side back in front with a long-range shot which hopped over the crossbar. Ray Connellan then landed two points from frees, either side of a point from lively DCU substitute Rory Connor.
Connor then cut Westmeath's lead to a point, and Westmeath had a let-off when the impressive McHugh was off target for once.
The influential Connellan restored the two point cushion in the 68th minute and in the dying moments DCU midfielder Tom Flynn was shown a black card.
DCU then won a 13-metre free after a big fetch from McTraynor and Hugh blasted the free over the bar to leave just a point in it once more. Westmeath won possession from the kick-out but the whistle quickly followed to relief from the home fans.
SCORERS - Westmeath: G Egan 1-4 (0-2fs); R Connellan 0-7 (5fs); J Dolan and L Smyth 1-0 each. DCU: C McHugh 0-8 (4fs), C McNally 1-1; D Byrne 1-0; R Connor 0-2; N Murphy and M Quinn 0-1 each
WESTMEATH: D Quinn; J Gilligan, K Maguire, T Mescall; D Dolan, K Martin, J Dolan; P Sharry, J Stapleton; D McCormack, G Egan, P Holloway; R Connellan, L Smyth, A Coffey, Subs: J Egan for McCormack (20); D Lynch for D Dolan (45), M McCallon for Gilligan (45); D Whelan for Smyth (68); K Daly for Coffey (68).
DCU: T Lowe; J Smith, D Wynne, D Ward; C Daly, C Boyle, M Quinn; T Flynn, S O'Brien; C McNally, N Murphy, D Byrne; E Keane, C McGraynor, C McHugh. Subs: C Begley for Quinn (30); C Moynagh for Boyle (h-t); R Connor for Keane (h-t); F Kelly for Ward (44); S McCoy for McNally (53); D Smith for Murphy (62).
REF - A Nolan (Wicklow).