Tuesday 12 December 2017

Westmeath grateful for gifts

Westmeath 4-10
Carlow 1-14
Leinster SHC

Three gift goals undermined Carlow's hopes of victory in this sub-standard preliminary-round tie at Dr Cullen Park yesterday as a focused Westmeath side deservedly advanced to a home meeting with Galway.

The Tribesmen will not be quaking in their boots at the prospect of meeting yesterday's winners. The quality was feeble, with poor first touch supplemented by unimpressive striking and loose marking.

There was little to choose between the sides for the opening 22 minutes as Westmeath led 0-3 to 0-1, playing with the aid of the blustery wind.

Then Carlow goalie Kevin Kehoe -- who had just made a blinding save from Derek McNicholas -- allowed a tame 35-metre shot from the same player creep into his net.

McNicholas, on early as a substitute, was on the mark again on 35 minutes with an opportunist strike and when Andrew Mitchell breached the home defence with the final action of the first half from a 110-metre free, Westmeath enjoyed a 3-5 to 0-4 interval lead.

Carlow changed goalies at half-time, with Nicky Roberts deputising. The Barrowsiders did put their collective shoulder to the wheel in the second half and a long-range goal from wing-back Richard Coady on the hour cut the lead to three points.

Immediately Westmeath swept upfield and captain Brian Smyth fired home after blocking Roberts' attempted clearance.

Carlow free-taker Ruari Dunbar scored 0-9 in a forward line which badly misfired against a Westmeath defence in which the half-back line of Eoin Price, Mitchell and Philip Gilsenan was a sheet anchor.

Brendan Murtagh was deadly accurate from frees for the visitors, scoring 0-7 from placed balls.

Carlow's tale of woe was complete when midfielder Jack Kavanagh received a straight red card for an incident involving Ciaran Curley. Kavanagh had earlier been yellow carded.

Man of the Match: B Smyth (Westmeath)

Scorers -- Westmeath: B Murtagh 0-7f, D McNicholas 2-0, B Smyth 1-2, A Mitchell 1-0f, J Shaw 0-1. Carlow: R Dunbar 0-9 (6f, 1 '65'), E Nolan 0-3, R Coady 1-0, E Byrne, P Coady 0-1 each.

Westmeath -- C Scally 7; C Flanagan 7, D McCormack 7, A McGrath 7; E Price 8, A Mitchell 8, P Gilsenan 7, N Flanagan 7, B Smyth 9; C Curley 7, P Greville 6, J Shaw 6; D Carthy 5, B Murtagh 7, A Devine 5. Subs: D McNicholas 8 for Devine (18); N Dowdall for Carthy (31), J Gilligan 7 for Gilsenan (48), P Dowdall 6 for Flanagan (50), A Craig for Curley (70).

Carlow -- K Kehoe 5; A Corcoran 5, S Kavanagh 7, D Shaw 7; E Coady 7, E Nolan 8, R Coady 7; J Kavanagh 6, J Rogers 6; E Byrne 6, C Doyle 6, M Brennan 6; A Gaule 5, R Dunbar 8, P Kehoe 5. Subs: N Roberts 5 for K Kehoe (h-t), D Roberts 5 for P Kehoe (h-t), D Kavanagh 5 for Gaule (52), P Coady for Shaw (65).

REF -- T Carroll (Offaly).

Irish Independent

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