Sport Hurling

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Deise step on the gas to burn off Westmeath

DUBLIN 1-16 KILKENNY 0-16 Leinster SHC S/F replay

Waterford’s Shane Fives gets away from Joey Boyle of Westmeath during their qualifier clash in Mullingar yesterday. Photo: Brian Lawless
Waterford’s Shane Fives gets away from Joey Boyle of Westmeath during their qualifier clash in Mullingar yesterday. Photo: Brian Lawless

Dermot Crowe

An easy win for Waterford, eventually, and poor reward for Westmeath's efforts, though almost all of their good hurling was condensed into the period before half-time. By the interval they were level, having led for much of the game to that point, until a late Brian O'Sullivan goal against the run of play helped Waterford steady themselves.

Westmeath scored 0-10 in the first half in Mullingar, hit only a couple of wides, but had had the benefit of the wind and were bracing themselves for a Waterford response. It came with the force of a gale, Waterford scoring 2-15 to just 0-4 from the home team in the second period. O'Sullivan, who took time to settle, finished with 2-2. Maurice Shanahan didn't emulate his scoring theatrics in Tullamore a week earlier but wasn't far off: he posted 1-9, 1-4 from play.

Seamus Prendergast played well throughout and was good when Waterford were not, ending up with three points from play, always showing for ball and winning good primary possession. But, in a reflection of the formality of the second half, the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for Tony Browne, who came on the field on the hour, two days short of his 40th birthday. By then Waterford were rolling out the subs; the game was safe.

By then, too, Waterford's laboured first half had been forgotten and much of the tidy hurling Westmeath produced nearly erased from the memory. But it is worth noting how well they played for 35 minutes, looking hungry and lean, and picking faults in a visiting team massively favoured to advance to the next phase. Waterford hurled like they believed those odds and seemed surprised to be met with such a hardy resistance.

They were loose in their play, with some of the Westmeath scores coming from turnovers. In one instance Michael 'Brick' Walsh was blocked, taking too long to clear, and in another a loose pass was intercepted and Westmeath scored. The Waterford shooting was also lame, with seven first-half wides, Pauric Mahony guilty of three. O'Sullivan and Jake Dillon also missed goal chances.

The game opened with two flare-ups, the first ignited by a row between Westmeath corner-back Liam Varley and Shanahan, who started in the right corner. A few moments later Shane O'Sullivan and David Fennell were having a go. Referee Diarmuid Kirwan didn't see either but doled out yellows after consulting with his linesmen. The first of those incidents could have brought a red card but the game settled down and the rest was free of rancour.

Shanahan was Waterford's chief threat early on when scores didn't come easily. They finally got their first from play after 19 minutes, from Shanahan. Westmeath free-taker Derek McNicholas had a fine half, scoring well from frees and play, and finishing with 0-6, half of those from play. Eoin Price was another to impress, scoring a lovely point on the run. They went three up at the midway point in the first half, Waterford got back level and then the home team went three in front again during their best spell.

But the second half was a different story.

Scorers – Waterford: M Shanahan 1-9 (5fs), B O'Sullivan 2-2, S Prendergast 0-3, K Moran, J Dillon 0-2 each, S O'Sullivan, D Fives, S Fives, J Barron 0-1 each. Westmeath: D McNicholas 0-6 (4 fs); B Murtagh 0-3; E Price 0-2; A Clarke, J Shaw, T Doyle 0-1.

Waterford: S O'Keeffe; S Fives, L Lawlor, N Connors; R Barry, M Walsh, D Fives; R Foley, K Moran; J Dillon, P Mahony, S O'Sullivan; M Shanahan, S Prendergast, B O'Sullivan. Subs: G O'Brien for Mahony (53), E Barrett for D Fives (55), D Twomey for Foley (58), T Browne for Barry (60), J Barron for Dillon (67).

Westmeath: P Collins; T Gallagher, A Price, P Fennell; L Varley, A McGrath, D Fennell; E Price, B Murtagh; J Shaw, D McNicholas, R Greville; A Clarke, J Boyle, N O'Brien. Subs: T Doyle for Shaw (inj 38), G Greville for Gallagher (48), S Power for O'Brien (65), A Craig for Greville (65), T Egan for Varley (66).

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork)

Irish Independent

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