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Westmeath shoot 3-22 as they dismiss Offaly to seal Tailteann Cup decider

The ran out nine-point winners over the Faithful in Croke Park.

Westmeath's Lorcan Dolan celebrates scoring.
Westmeath's Lorcan Dolan celebrates scoring.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Westmeath 3-22

Offaly 2-16

WESTMEATH ENCOUNTERED LITTLE difficulty against Offaly as they set-up a Tailteann Cup final meeting with Cavan in three weeks’ time. 

2006 was the last year Offaly beat Westmeath in the championship and that winless run continued here.

It was an extremely open game and the final score resembled something we’re more accustomed to in hurling than the big ball code.

Even though they played at a lower division in the league, Westmeath showed their superior experience and kept their neighbours at arm’s length from 14 minutes when they led by 1-4 to no score.

By the end, Westmeath had torpedoed 3-22 against a Faithful defence run ragged by a running game. Lorcan Daly grabbed two goals and John Heslin added 0-8, but they had scorers from all over the field.

Their attacking play was superb. They had 10 scorers overall and left a handful of goals behind them, particularly in the opening half. 

To their credit Offaly kept chipping away after a disastrous start where they didn’t score a point from play until the 24th minute. At that stage they only had 1-2 on the board, yet they finished with a credible tally of 2-16.

johnny-moloney-with-kevin-maguire Johnny Moloney tackles Kevin Maguire. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

A vomiting bug swept through the Offaly camp during the week and they suffered a blow when experienced defender Niall Darby went down with a suspected torn cruciate on Tuesday night. Whether that impacted their start to the game or not, they started poorly.

Westmeath were wasteful in the opening 13 minutes, even though they led by 0-3 to no score. Their runners from deep exposed Offaly, who stood off defensively. Ronan Wallace went through untracked from the half-back line and rattled in Westmeath’s opening goal.

Offaly rallied in the 17th minute after a stunning block from Johnny Moloney on Heslin led to a move that saw Niall McNamee win a free on the edge of the D. McNamee caught the defence sleeping with a quick free to Keith O’Neill and his finish gave Offaly their first score of the game.

The Offaly attack were living on scraps, although McNamee’s free reduced the gap to four, 1-4 to 1-1, shortly after. Even though Westmeath were dominating the game, they weren’t making it count on the scoreboard. 

They missed 10 shots in the first period and left a certain goal behind them when Heslin’s goal bound strike hit Sam McCartan’s back and bounced clear. They improved their accuracy by shooting 1-6 in the 12 minutes before the break.

Westmeath’s second goal arrived after James Dolan burst forward on the counter attack.

He fed McCartan who in turn found Lorcan Dolan for a tap-in at the back post with a soccer-style pass. Anton Sullivan was Offaly’s brightest forward early on and he clipped two fine scores.

jordan-hayes-has-a-shot-on-goal Jordan Hayes has a shot on goal saved. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

One of Offaly’s U20 All-Ireland winners, Jack Bryant, looked dangerous in patches and curled one over. But at the far end Offaly were leaking far too much. They went in 2-11 to 1-6 behind at the interval and it was a scoreline that flattered John Maughan’s team. 

The Faithful were far improved in the second-half. After conceding the first two scores, they fired three points in succession. The issue was they created a handful of half chances for goal that weren’t converted. McNamee brought his tally to five with a hat-trick of frees to bring his team within seven. 

Heslin kept the scoreboard moving for Westmeath and then the excellent Lorcan Dolan grabbed his second goal after a fine burst forward from Kevin Maguire. That killed off the Offaly resistance. O’Toole and McCartan tagged on scores as Westmeath stretched their lead to 12. 

Cathal Flynn arrived off the bench and produced a magnificent individual goal after playing a one-two with Dylan Hyland.  

Offaly’s bench did have an impact and shot 1-5 between them. Westmeath had the final saw as O’Toole brought his tally to four and subs Alex Gardiner and Robbie Forde got in on the act.

Scorers for Westmeath: John Heslin 0-8 (0-3f), Lorcan Dolan 2-1, Ronan O’Toole 0-4, Sam McCartan 0-3, Ronan Wallace 1-0, Luke Loughlin 0-2, James Dolan, Ray Connellan, Alex Gardiner, Robbie Forde 0-1 each. 

Scorers for Offaly: Niall McNamee 0-6 (0-6f), Keith O’Neill 1-2, Cathal Flynn 1-0, Dylan Hyland 0-3, Anton Sullivan 0-2, Jack Bryant, Jack McEvoy and Mark Abbott 0-1 each.

Westmeath

1. Jason Daly (St Loman’s)

2. Jack Smith (Skerries Harps), 5. James Dolan (Garrycastle), 3. Kevin Maguire (Caulry), 

6. Ronan Wallace (Multyfarnham), 12. David Lynch (St Malachy’s), 4. Jamie Gonoud (Tyrrellspass)

22. Sam Duncan MIlltownpass), 9. Ray Connellan (Athlone), 

8. Jonathan Lynam (The Downs), 11. Ronan O’Toole (St Loman’s), 10. Sam McCartan (St Loman’s Mullingar)

15. Lorcan Dolan (Castledaly),  14. John Heslin (St Loman’s), , 13. Luke Loughlin (The Downs)

Subs

20. Robbie Forde (Moate All Whites) for Duncan (45)

17. Ger Egan (Tyrrellspass) for Lynam (54)

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19. Alex Gardiner (Garrycastle) for Lorcan Dolan (63)

7. Nigel Harte (Tyrrellspass) for James Dolan (68)

18. Kieran Martin (Maryland) for Loughlin (68)

Offaly

1. Paddy Dunican (Shamrocks)

2. Lee Pearson (Edenderry), 3. Declan Hogan (Tullamore), 20. David Dempsey (Ballycommon)

5. Rory Egan (Edenderry), 6. Johnny Moloney (Tullamore), 7. Cian Donohoe (St Brigid’s)

8. Conor McNamee (Rhode), 9. Jordan Hayes (Edenderry)

10. Bill Carroll (Cappincur), 11. Ruairi McNamee (Rhode), 12. Anton Sullivan (Rhode)

13. Jack Bryant (Shamrocks), 14. Niall McNamee (Rhode), 15. Keith O’Neill (Clonbullogue)

Subs

22. Dyland Hyland (Raheen) for Carroll (22)

17. James Lalor (Raheen) for Conor McNamee (ht)

21. Mark Abbott (Edenderry) for Pearson (52)

19. Cathal Flynn (Ferbane) for Bryant (52)

24. Jack McEvoy (Clonbullogue) for Ruairi McNamee (65)

Referee: Paul Faloon (Down)

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Croke Park

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