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Westmeath trouncing leaves dismal Offaly in danger of McDonagh relegation

Westmeath ran out winners by almost double scores in Mullingar, while Laois made it two wins from two.

Killian Doyle: 1-12 powered Westmeath to victory (file photo).
Killian Doyle: 1-12 powered Westmeath to victory (file photo).
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Westmeath 3-18

Offaly 0-14

Kevin Egan reports from TEG Cusack Park

WESTMEATH PRODUCED A devastating performance that easily brushed aside an anaemic Offaly challenge at Mullingar this afternoon, with Killian Doyle’s 1-10 first-half haul the key ingredient in their 13-point victory.

Joe Quaid’s side will now be hotly fancied to get back to a Joe McDonagh Cup final alongside Laois, where they’ll hope to improve on last year’s defeat to Carlow. For Offaly the prognosis is altogether different, with relegation to the Christy Ring Cup now a real possibility for Kevin Martin’s side.

On today’s performance, they could have no argument with relegation. Joe Bergin was their only starting forward to score, with the exception of one Shane Dooley free while Bergin was off the field temporarily with an injury. Tommy Doyle and Aonghus Clarke anchored a Westmeath defence that completely suffocated their neighbours, while all across the field, the home side hurled with more thought and purpose.

Poor stickwork from Dermot Shortt and Mark Egan enabled Ciarán Doyle to sneak in and get a crucial interception that set up his twin brother Killian for the game’s first goal, and while Offaly replied with a point from Egan, Westmeath then took control of the game, scoring seven points in a row.

Their control of the Offaly puckout was a huge factor, as they monopolised possession and cruised to a 1-13 to 0-5 interval lead.

With three substitutes on the field by the start of the second half and a subsequent rise in intensity, there was a brief window in which it looked as if the Faithful County might rally. Joe Bergin fired over two frees and Shane Dooley added another after Bergin was fouled by Tommy Doyle, then Kevin Dunne cut the gap to seven with a score from 60 metres out. Westmeath’s inaccuracy was helping them to stay in touch as the Lake County added three more wides to the eight they shot in the first half (the final tally was 16-6).

That all fell apart when Eoghan Cahill played a short puckout to Ben Conneely, who overhit his pass to Mark Egan, Joey Boyle pounced, sprinted through two defenders and rifled a shot into the top corner.

Another Doyle free was the only score in the next ten minutes, before Westmeath added a magnificent team goal to pile on the misery. Niall Mitchell made a great catch in the left corner and fed Killian Doyle, who dummied a shot before playing a low pass under his marker to Derek McNicholas. With Cahill charging out, McNicholas played a perfect lift and strike to find the net, raising the biggest cheer of the day from an already delighted home support, who can legitimately start to think about a Croke Park day out next month.

For Offaly, the focus turns to a vital home game against Antrim in a fortnight, for which they’ll be without full back Niall Houlihan after the Tullamore player was shown a straight red card for a wild pull down on Niall Mitchell.

Meanwhile, in O’Moore Park, Laois made it two wins from two to cement their place at the top of the McDonagh table.

First-half goals from Paddy Purcell and Willie Dunphy helped the hosts into a 10-point lead over Antrim at half time, 2-13 to 0-9.

Neil McManus’s goal on the hour mark cut the gap to eight points, 2-20 to 1-15, and that was the final margin as Laois ultimately ran out 2-24 to 1-19 winners.

Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 1-12 (0-6f), Derek McNicholas 1-3 (0-1f), Joey Boyle 1-1, Aonghus Clarke & Darragh Clinton 0-1 each.

Scorers for Offaly: Joe Bergin 0-9 (0-6f, 0-1 ’65), Mark Egan, Kevin Dunne, Shane Dooley (f), Cillian Kiely, Shane Kinsella 0-1 each.

Westmeath

1. Conor Lynch

2. Darragh Egerton
3. Tommy Doyle
4. Gary Greville

5. Aaron Craig
6. Aonghus Clarke
7. Paul Greville

9. Cormac Boyle
8. Shane Clavin

12. Robbie Greville
11. Killian Doyle
10. Joey Boyle

13. Niall Mitchell
14. Derek McNicholas
15. Ciarán Doyle

Substitutes:

24. Alan Devine for C Boyle (HT)
23. Darragh Clinton for C Doyle (55)
17. Conor Shaw for Craig (60)
21. Darragh Reilly for K Doyle (65)
20. Shane Power for R Greville (67)

Offaly

1. Eoghan Cahill

2. David O’Toole Greene
7. Niall Houlihan
4. Ben Conneely

5. Colm Gath
6. Pat Camon
3. Dermot Shortt

8. Kevin Dunne
9. Mark Egan

13. Conor Mahon
10. Sean Dolan
12. Colin Egan

15. Oisín Kelly
11. Shane Dooley
14. Joe Bergin

Substitutes:

18. Cillian Kiely for Dolan (26)
25. Damien Egan for Gath (35)
26. Shane Kinsella for Mahon (HT)
17. Conor Langton for Bergin (42, temp)
23. Tom Spain for Camon (52)
19. Kevin Connolly for Shane Dooley (55)

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)

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About the author:

Kevin Egan

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