Sunday, May 19, 2024

Significant boost for Westmeath as hurlers overcome Kerry

Niall O’Brien came off the bench to turn in a match winning performance as the Westmeath hurlers turned in a fine display to defeat 14-man Kerry by 15 points in this National Hurling League Division 2A game played in Austin Stack Park, Tralee, last Sunday afternoon.

This was a must win game for the Lake County men but they responded to the pressure situation in excellent style to keep themselves in contention for a place in the league final with two group games to come, at home to Wicklow and Carlow.
Kerry, who had drawn with Derry and defeated Wicklow in their opening two games, suffered a major setback when their half back Keith Carmody was sent off in the 27th minute.
However there were still just four points between the sides at the interval as Westmeath led by 1-7 to 0-6, thanks to a goal by Brendan Murtagh in the 30th minute.
Kerry started the second half brightly and almost drew level, but then Niall O’Brien began to shine for Westmeath and goals from Darragh Clinton and Alan Devine sent the Lake County on the road to victory.
The visitors remained in control in the final quarter as a very young and inexperienced Kerry side failed to score in the final 15 minutes.
Westmeath manager Michael Ryan made three changes to the team that lost up in Derry to a late goal. Adam Price came into defence for Alan McGrath, captain Aonghus Clarke returned from injury to replace Cormac Boyle, and Derek McNicholas also returned from injury to take the place of Niall Dowdall, who was injured.
The sides were level at 0-2 each after 17 minutes of play with Robbie Greville scoring two points and Mikey Boyle and Shane Nolan replying for Kerry.
The introduction of Niall O’Brien for the injured Aaron Craig saw a reshuffle in the Westmeath side, with O’Brien adding more firepower to the attack.
Westmeath then scored three points without reply from Eoin Price, Brendan Murtagh and Alan Devine, with Keith Carmody responding for Kerry, as the Kingdom trailed by 0-3 to 0-5 after 24 minutes. Darragh Clinton of Westmeath and Shane Nolan of Kerry then traded points, but Nolan had also missed some scoreable frees, which would have kept the home side in touch.
KERRY’S RED CARD
Then came the turning point when Keith Carmody was shown a straight red card in the 27th minute for a dangerous strike close to Westmeath full forward Derek McNicholas. Carmody was certainly going for the sliotar but the dangerous pull gave referee John O’Brien little option but to show the red card.
A few minutes later Brendan Murtagh fired the sliotar to the Kerry net for Westmeath’s first goal and when the interval arrived Westmeath led by 1-7 to 0-6.
Kerry surprisingly increased the tempo after the break and points from Padraig Boyle, Colm Harty and Michael O’Leary reduced the Westmeath lead.
However midway through the half Delvin’s Darragh Clinton struck Westmeath’s second goal and a short time later Castlepollard’s Alan Devine bagged their third goal to dash Kerry hopes.
The Kingdom collapsed in the final quarter failing to register a score while Westmeath scored eight unanswered points with Niall O’Brien, Eoin Price, Robbie Greville, Alan Devine, Brendan Murtagh and Killian Murphy all finding the range in the second half.
This was a good win for the men in maroon but further improvement, and full concentration will be required if Westmeath are to overcome Wicklow and then Carlow to reach the League final.

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