Thursday 14 December 2017

Murtagh fires Westmeath to title as Gaffney inspires Armagh victory

Westmeath 0-10 Carlow 0-8

Westmeath captain Aonghus Clarke lifts the Division 2A hurling league cup. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Westmeath captain Aonghus Clarke lifts the Division 2A hurling league cup. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Westmeath's Tommy Gallagher getting physical with Carlow's Seán Murphy. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Westmeath's Cormac Boyle attempts to evade Carlow's Martin Kavanagh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile newsdesk

It was far from a classic in Tullamore yesterday as Westmeath were crowned Division 2A champions as they were forced to battle both Carlow and the elements to hold out by two points.

It was a dogged and scrappy affair but with no shortage of desire on either side, Westmeath had that bit more class on the day and their 0-9 to 0-3 half-time lead set up them up to hold on despite only scoring one point in the second half.

Westmeath started brightly with Brendan Murtagh leading the way but the struggled to open up a sizeable lead given the strong wind advantage they had in the opening half. Three late points left them 0-9 to 0-3 up at the break but they were far from comfortable.

Carlow spurned three goal chances in the early stages of the second half but once Westmeath weathered that storm, they kept the Carlow men at arms length until the final stages.

Brendan Murtagh's '65 in the 42nd minute was the first and Westmeath's only score of the second half and the game was heading for the final quarter when James Doyle ended a 35 minute scoreless spell for Carlow with a well-taken point.

Kevin McDonald landed four frees coming into the final stretch to make the last few minutes nerve-tingling for Westmeath supporters but that elusive goal denied Carlow a comeback.

Scorers - Westmeath: B Murtagh 0-7 (0-5f, 0-2 '65s), A Devine, E Price & C Boyle 0-1 each. Carlow: K McDonald 0-4f, M Kavanagh 0-3 (0-2f), J Doyle 0-1.

Westmeath: P Moloney; T Gallagher, T Doyle, S Power; A Craig, A Clarke, A McGrath; G Greville, C Boyle; L Varley, D McNicholas, R Greville; A Devine, B Murtagh, E Price. Subs: N O'Brien for McNicholas (23), N Dowdall for R Greville (57), D Egerton for Devine (61)

Carlow: J Barron; A Corcoran, M Ryan, G Coady; D Byrne, D English, J O'Hara; J Kavanagh, M Kavanagh; Seán Murphy, JM Nolan, K McDonald; J Doyle, Seamus Murphy, S Whelan.

Subs: R Kelly for Whelan (ht), R Smithers for Seán Murphy (49)

Referee: J Keane (Galway)

Armagh 0-20 Down 1-15

An exceptional display of accuracy by Ryan Gaffney helped Armagh win promotion to Division 2A of the Allianz National Hurling League after they beat rivals Down in yesterday's final in Dundalk.

Gaffney was in top form, scoring 11 of his team's points, 10 of which came from placed balls.

The Orchard side trailed early in the game as Danny Toner struck four of the game's first five points.

But Armagh, who had been beaten by Down in the opening round of the League, showed much more hunger and conviction but they relied on the sharpshooting of Ryan Gaffney who finished top-scorer with 11 points (ten from frees).

Armagh led 0-12 to 0-07 at half-time and were denied a goal soon after the break thanks to Down goalkeeper Stephen Keith pulling off a tremendous save from Declan Coulter's penalty.

The Mourne men rallied with points from Toner and Rian Branagan and a goal from substitute Chris Egan to close the gap but their chances were hampered after Ruairi Campbell was sent off on 45 minutes.

And at the other end Armagh's Coulter, Gaffney and John Corvan displayed composure in front of the posts, which was enough to see them win the title, which was collected by captain Cahal Carvill.

Scorers - Armagh: R Gaffney 0-11 (10f), D Coulter 0-4, S Renaghan 0-2, J Corvan, C Corvan, C Devlin 0-1 each; Down: D Toner 0-7 (4f), C Egan 1-0, C O'Prey 0-3f, J McGrath 0-2, S Nicholson 0-2, R Brannigan 0-1.

Armagh: S Doherty, C Clifford, A McGuinness, C Devlin, K McKernan, S Gaffney, C Toner, S Renaghan, J Corvan, R Gaffney, D Coulter, D Carvill, C Carvill, E McGuinness, C Corvan. Subs: C Devlin for E McGuinness (45), P McKearney for John Corvan (66).

Down: S Keith, C O'Prey, P Flynn, S Ennis, J McManus, A O'Prey, J McGrath, C Woods, S Nicholson, F Conway, D Hughes, R Branagan, S Dineen, D Toner, C Mageen. Subs: C Egan for Conway (43), P Sheehan for A O'Prey (48), R Campbell for R Brannigan (53), J Doran for S Dineen (63),

Referee: P Murphy (Carlow)

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