Maloney limits damage in face of purring Cats
Kilkenny4-18 Westmeath 0-18
Three goals in the opening quarter of an hour propelled Kilkenny to their expected comfortable win against Westmeath in yesterday’s Walsh Cup game, played in ideal conditions for hurling in Mullingar, but Westmeath outscored their vaunted opponents in the second half.
A smaller than expected crowd showed up despite the unseasonably pleasant weather. Those present witnessed virtually one-way traffic for the entire first quarter, with a nervous Westmeath outfit outplayed all over the pitch.
Kilkenny’s early goals came via a Walter Walsh brace and Jonjo Farrell, leaving Brian Cody’s rampant charges ahead by 3-5 to 0-2 after just 14 minutes.
The home defence was regularly cut wide open and it needed some wonderful goalkeeping by Paddy Maloney – who had also done very well to keep out a Pat Lyng pile-driver before Walsh’s second goal – to keep the scoreboard semi-respectable from a Westmeath perspective.
Walsh had a third ‘goal’ disallowed for a square ball offence approaching the end of normal time in the first half, but the visitors were full value for their interval lead of 3-12 to 0-8.
Despite conceding another goal to Farrell within three minutes of the resumption (after a clever free by TJ Reid), Westmeath went on to marginally shade the second half, albeit Kilkenny had the luxury of being able to spring experienced players such as Lester Ryan from the bench to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
TJ Reid was rested as a precaution in the 62nd minute, while Richie Hogan was also withdrawn just before the throw-in.
Forwards Brendan Murtagh (a former Leinster player) and freetaker Allan Devine were in fine form throughout for Michael Ryan’s troops.
Four unanswered points midway through the half, including a second long-range effort from wing-back Aaron Craig, lifted the home crowd, and Westmeath battled manfully right to the final whistle against a strong Kilkenny outfit.
In truth, however, they never looked like getting in for a face-saving goal, and goalkeeper Richie Reid was never tested at any stage.
Scorers - Kilkenny: W Walsh 2-3, J Farrell 2-2, TJ Reid 0-7 (4fs, 1 '65'), P Lyng 0-3, C Martin, S Morrissey, L Ryan 0-1 each. Westmeath: A Devine 0-9 (6fs), B Murtagh 0-4, A Craig 0-2, N Mitchell, E Price, D Clinton 0-1 each.
Kilkenny - R Reid; J Holden, R Lennon, M Walsh; C O'Shea, P Murphy, C Fogarty; C Martin, O Walsh; P Lyng, J Farrell, R Leahy; S Morrissey, W Walsh, TJ Reid. Subs: K Joyce for O'Shea (h-t), L Ryan for Martin (h-t), S Prendergast for M Walsh (h-t), M Malone for O Walsh (47), A Murphy for Lyng (60), C Martin for TJ Reid (inj., 62).
Westmeath - P Maloney; S Power, A McGrath, C Shaw; A Craig, A Clarke, G Greville; J Boyle, J Galvin; N Mitchell, B Murtagh, E Price; D Egerton, A Devine, D Clinton. Subs: A Cox for McGrath (h-t), E Corrigan for Egerton (h-t), P Scally for Galvin (56), K Duncan for Power (60), P Lynam for Clinton (62), D Golden for Murtagh (66).
Ref - J Keenan (Wicklow).