Tipperary's Conor Stakelum in action against Westmeath. Natasha Barton/INPHO
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Tipperary fire 3-25 as they survive late scare to defeat Westmeath

Mark Kehoe scored two goals for the Premier.

Tipperary 3-25

Westmeath 2-21

Stephen Barry reports from FBD Semple Stadium, Thurles

A STOPPAGE-TIME own goal from keeper Noel Conaty saw Tipperary survive a late scare against Westmeath and move closer to a place in the hurling league semi-finals.

Two Mark Kehoe goals in the space of a minute put Tipp on course for their third win on the spin before being withdrawn at half-time due to a knock.

They had led by 14 points with 19 minutes remaining but Westmeath, who pushed Limerick to the pin of their collar last time out, created havoc with long balls in the second half.

Niall Mitchell was the target and David Williams the major beneficiary, scoring 2-12 and seeing a penalty saved by Rhys Shelly.

They closed the gap to four entering two added minutes before Conaty spilled the ball into his own net under pressure after saving from Jason Forde.

In a team featuring 14 changes from the victory over Galway, Liam Cahill gave league debuts to David Kelly, Seán Hayes, and Fitzgibbon Cup winner Cathal Quinn, a first start to Billy Seymour, and first appearances of 2024 to Dan McCormack, Noel McGrath, and Forde. An early-season tune-up for some, a final chance to impress for others as Cahill expects to trim his panel in the coming week.

Forde had hit 2-20 between Tipp’s two recent victories over Westmeath and he added 0-12 (11 frees) to that record, while Conor Stakelum contributed 0-6 from play in front of 1,962 fans at Semple Stadium.

Tipp ran up the first four points without appearing in full flow; the best of the bunch a superb Kehoe catch and run which flashed just over the crossbar. Manager Joe Fortune and a Westmeath sideline official were both yellow-carded by referee Seán Cleere soon after for some over-zealous protests.

Tipp almost had a goal when Hayes played in Quinn but Conaty’s outstretched leg deflected the sliotar over the bar.

Tommy Doyle raided forward from wing-back and Williams added two frees as Westmeath clipped three points on the spin to cut the deficit to one, 0-7 to 0-6.

But Tipp pressed the accelerator with a 2-3 burst in the next five minutes. Points from Forde (0-2) and McGrath were followed by two goals in the space of a minute from Kehoe. His first came after Andrew Ormond drew in two defenders to find the Kilsheelan-Kilcash attacker, while the second was a fine angled finish after being found by Stakelum.

Tipp stretched the lead out to 11 before Westmeath closed the half with the final three points, from Joey Boyle and Williams (0-2).

Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher replaced Kehoe and he had three assists within five minutes as Tipp tacked on the first five points of the second half. He supplied a brilliant goal chance for the unmarked Stakelum, who just couldn’t keep his shot down.

Stakelum had five points after the break which equalled the impact of the Westmeath subs bench (two each from Killian Doyle and David O’Reilly, plus one from Ciarán Doyle).

They were motoring once the long-ball tactic began to pay dividends. As Mitchell caused panic, Williams whipped a loose ball to the net in the 53rd minute.

Within a minute, they had a penalty to bring it back to a seven-point game. Barry Heffernan wrestled Mitchell to the turf but he was bailed out by Shelly, who turned Williams’ strike around the post.

Williams landed the 65 to bring it back to nine although Tipp appeared to steady thereafter. The gap was still 10 with four minutes remaining when Westmeath drilled 1-3. Mitchell laid off a long delivery to Williams for the goal and he won a free for his team-mate as stoppage time loomed.

But amid a goalmouth scramble at the other end, Maher forced Conaty into his error to seal a seven-point win.

Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-12 (11f), Mark Kehoe 2-1, Conor Stakelum 0-6, Noel Conaty 1-0 (own goal), Noel McGrath 0-3, Cathal Quinn 0-1, Seán Hayes 0-1, John Campion 0-1.

Scorers for Westmeath: David Williams 2-12 (0-7f, 0-2 65s), Killian Doyle 0-2 (1f), David O’Reilly 0-2, Tommy Doyle 0-1, Peter Clarke 0-1, Joey Boyle 0-1, Niall Mitchell 0-1, Ciarán Doyle 0-1.


1. Rhys Shelly (Moycarkey-Borris)

2. Johnny Ryan (Arravale Rovers), 3. Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), 4. David Kelly (Ballina)

5. Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh), 6. Brian McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), 7. Seamus Kennedy (St Mary’s, captain)

8. Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), 9. Cathal Quinn (Cashel King Cormacs)

10. Seán Hayes (Kiladangan), 11. Jason Forde (Silvermines), 12. Conor Stakelum (Thurles Sarsfields)

13. Andrew Ormond (JK Brackens), 14. Billy Seymour (Kiladangan), 15. Mark Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash)


  • 24. Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha) for Kehoe (h-t, inj)
  • 21. Joe Fogarty (Moneygall) for Seymour (53)
  • 25. Cian O’Dwyer (Clonakenny) for Ormond (53)
  • 18. John Campion (Drom-Inch) for Quinn (60)
  • 22. Enda Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore) for B Heffernan (64)


1. Noel Conaty (Lough Lene Gaels)

4. Conor Gaffney (Castlepollard), 2. Johnny Bermingham (Castletown Geoghegan), 6. Kevin Regan (Cullion)

5. Jack Gillen (Cullion), 7. Darragh Egerton (Clonkill), 3. Tommy Doyle (Lough Lene Gaels)

8. Shane McGovern (Crookedwood), 9. Peter Clarke (Castletown Geoghegan)

12. Joey Boyle (Raharney), 13. Niall Mitchell (Clonkill), 15. David Williams (Lough Lene Gaels)

11. Darragh Clinton (Delvin), 10. Owen McCabe (Fr Daltons), 14. Eoin Keyes (Raharney)


  • 24. Ciarán Doyle (Raharney) for Keyes (h-t)
  • 20. David O’Reilly (Castletown-Geoghegan) for Clinton (h-t)
  • 18. Aaron Craig (St Oliver Plunkett’s) for Gillen (47)
  • 23. Robbie Greville (Raharney) for McGovern (47)
  • 17. Killian Doyle (Raharney) for McCabe (58)

Referee: Seán Cleere (Kilkenny)

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