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Bennett inspirational as Waterford take nine-point victory away from Mullingar clash with Westmeath

Allianz NHL Division 1: Waterford 3-18 Westmeath 1-15

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Waterford's Stephen Bennett takes the sliotar past Westmeath's Aaron Craig during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A Round 2 match at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Waterford's Stephen Bennett takes the sliotar past Westmeath's Aaron Craig during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A Round 2 match at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Waterford's Stephen Bennett takes the sliotar past Westmeath's Aaron Craig during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A Round 2 match at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

As expected, Waterford always looked the better team against a gutsy Westmeath outfit in a somewhat low-key National Hurling League Division 1 game in Mullingar, with the visitors not flattered by their nine-point winning margin.  

Despite having the aid of a strong wind, it took Waterford a while to settle. Iarlaith Daly opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a long-range point, and the visitors led by 0-3 to 0-1 when Westmeath captain Eoin Price got his side on the scoreboard in the 11th minute.

It was 0-7 to 0-2 midway through the first half when Stephen Bennett pounced for Waterford's first goal.

The home team had the gap down to five points (1-8 to 0-6) with 26 minutes elapsed.

A huge cheer greeted the next score when goalkeeper Billy Nolan struck a monster point from open play.

Waterford put a huge distance between the teams by scoring an unanswered 2-2 before the break – the goals from the sticks of Jack Fagan (when he tapped the ball into an unguarded net in the second minute of injury-time) and Bennett's second (with the last puck of the half).

The Decies men led by 3-10 to 0-6 at the interval.

Westmeath needed a good start to the second half but Niall Mitchell, who had a fine game overall, underhit an early '65'.

Bennett continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over from placed balls – he scored four out of five '65's awarded to his team throughout the game, in addition to four frees.

It was 3-13 to 0-9 in favour of Liam Cahill’s troops when Mitchell scored his side's only goal in the 54th minute, after being picked out by impressive sub Ciaran Doyle, who scored four points from play in the second half.

Waterford should have raised two more green flags before the end. A foul on Fagan as he looked set to score his second goal resulted in a penalty, but Bennett's 64th-minute shot from the spot was superbly saved by Aaron McHugh.

Bennett had a 'goal' disallowed in the last minute of normal time for a 'square ball' infringement after the home defence was carved open.

It was a careless error given that the net was unguarded and it summed up an often-lethargic contest, as Shane O’Brien's charges continue to find life tough in the top flight after a 32-year absence.

SCORERS - Waterford: S Bennett 2-8 (4f, 4‘65’), J Fagan 1-0, D Lyons, P Curran 0-2 each, B Nolan, I Daly, P Mahony, M Kearney, J Dillon, D Hutchinson 0-1 each. Westmeath: N Mitchell 1-6 (5f), C Doyle 0-4, A Devine 0-2, E Price, D Clinton, S McGovern each.

Waterford: B Nolan 8; S Fives 6, C Prunty 6, S McNulty 6; K Power 6, D Fives 7, I Daly 7; J Dillon 6, M O’Brien 6; N Montgomery 6, D Lyons 7, J Fagan 6; D Hutchinson 6, S Bennett 8, P Curran 7. Subs: M Kearney 6 for O’Brien (27), B Power 6 for Hutchinson (42), P Mahony 6 for Montgomery (49), K Moran 6 for Power (56), T Barron n/r for Curran (66).

Westmeath: A McHugh 7; B Doyle 5, T Doyle 6, A Ennis 6; A Craig 5, A Clarke 7, S Clavin 6; C Boyle 6, E Price 7; J Boyle 6, D McNicholas 5, R Greville 6; N Mitchell 7, D Clinton 5, D O’Reilly 5. Subs: A Devine 6 for O’Reilly (16), C Doyle 7 for Clinton (35 + 1), A Cox 6 for B Doyle (41), S McGovern 6 for McNicholas (53), J Gilligan 5 for Greville (61).

Referee: S Stack (Dublin).

Online Editors


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