All-Ireland MHC B: Westmeath by a whisker

August 14, 2010
Westmeath ...... 1-12
Meath .......... 1-10

Westmeath edged out neighbours Meath in a keenly constested ESB All-Ireland MHC B semi-final at Pairc Tailteann on Saturday.

When the sides clashed at Cusack Park, Mullingar in the first round of the Leinster MHC back in April, Westmeath eased to an 18-point win over Meath.

Although Westmeath led for most of the way, there was never more than four points between the sides.

At the end Meath's James Kelly saw his goal attempt from a close range free diverted for a '65'. Paddy Conneely's subsequent effort to snatch victory for the home side was to no avail and Westmeath prevailed.

The scores were tied four times over the hour, but Westmeath were never headed and crucially posted the last two scores of the game, from Aonghus Clarke and Niall O'Brien in the 51st and 54th minutes respectively.

Meath moved centre-half-back Kelly to full-forward, as a last throw of the dice, but Westmeath held on. The home side also saw substitute William Harnan dismissed on receipt of two yellow cards in the latter stages.

David Gavin gave Westmeath an early lead but that was quickly countered by a well-worked point from Aaron Ennis.

When David Higgins pointed, Westmeath were 0-3 to 0-1 to the good 10 minutes in. Within four minutes the scores were tied again, 0-4 each, when Willie McGrath fired over from close range.

Westmeath's goal arrived in the 20th minute when Clarke latched onto Shane Fagan's long delivery and fired to the Meath net. Then Aaron Craig pointed and it was double scores, 1-5 to 0-4.

Two pointed Damien McGee frees halved the deficit, but similar scores from O'Brien earned Pat O'Brien's charges some leeway.

Another pointed McGee free left Meath trailing by 0-7 to 1-7 at half-time. When Enda Kincaid registered from distance in the 34th minute Westmeath were four points clear again.

Meath's best spell saw them gain parity by the 40th minute with McGee pointing from far out before Willie McGrath netted from close range after Shane Brennan's point attempt hit a post.

Westmeath's replied with points from Clarke (free) and O'Brien to gain the upper hand heading into the final quarter.

Points from Conneely and James Toher levelled matters for the fourth time, in the 50th minute. Meath were unable to hit the front as Westmeath did just enough to clinch a final spot.

Westmeath - N. Kelly; D. Garvin, T. Doyle, T. Gallagher; K. Reilly, G. Flynn, S. Fagan; P. Layde, D. Higgins (0-1); A. Craig (0-1), D. Gavin (0-2), E. Kincaid (0-1); A. Clarke (1-1), N. O'Brien (0-5, 3 fs), N. Kirby (0-1). Subs - J. Boyle for Flynn (ht), P. Reilly for Kirby (51), D. McDermott for Fagan (60).

Meath - C. Murray; S. Morris, N. Weir, C. Foley; T. Raleigh, J. Kelly, R. Andrews; C. Fitzsimons, S. Brennan; P. Conneely (0-1), A. Ennis (0-2), D. McGee (0-5, 4 fs); A. Gannon, W. McGrath (1-1), J. Toher (0-1). Subs - M. Hennessy for Gannon (49), W. Harnan for Ennis (54), F. Ferguson for McGee (58).

Referee - R. Matthews (Antrim).

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