Monday, July 22, 2024

Westmeath minors suffer disappointing defeat in Wexford

There was a disappointing start for the Westmeath minor footballers in their Leinster Championship campaign when they suffered a three-point defeat to Wexford at Innovate Wexford Park, last Saturday afternoon.

Having played against a strong gale force wind in the opening half, Westmeath trailed by just five points, 0-4 to 0-9, at the break.
With the strong wind behind them for the second half, Aidan Lennon’s side were confident of overturning that deficit and they looked on course for victory when two early second half goals propelled them into the lead. Indeed Westmeath stretched that lead to a five-point margin, but Wexford struck back and scored two goals themselves to regain a foothold on proceedings. Westmeath suddenly found themselves up against it and it was the home side, who finished the stronger, running out three-point winners.
Wexford now progress to the quarter-final stage, while Westmeath will enter the losers’ group where they face a home tie against neighbours Offaly. This is certain to be a tough assignment against the Faithful County, who gave a very good account of themselves against Dublin in the opening round.
Westmeath will look back on this game with major regret: they led by two points in the final quarter, but when a free out near the 20-metre line was cancelled, resulting in a throw-in, Wexford won back the ball and seconds later had it in the Westmeath net for the opening goal.
This was a undoubtedly a big turning point in the match and for Westmeath fans, the most controversial moment of the game. Had the visitors been able to consolidate their position during this crucial phase, they might well have progressed, but alas it was Wexford who grabbed the chance when it came their way.
WEXFORD SETTLE
EARLY ON
What seemed like a glorious summer’s day with clear blue skies overhead was spoiled by a powerful easterly gale, which blew from the town end of Innovate Wexford Park. With the wind at their backs, Wexford got off to a flying start and Mark Rossiter’s expert shooting resulted in three points after Nick Doyle opened their scoring-account within 18 seconds of the throw-in, creating a 10th minute lead of 0-4 to no score.
Throughout the first half, Westmeath tried to cut through with sprints from Plunkett Maxwell and Cathal Daly, but Wexford’s Martin O’Connor blunted their threat on a number of occasions.
When Westmeath eventually punched back with a brace of points, Ian Carty, Mikey Dwyer and Mark Rossiter sent over Wexford points to create a five-point gap, which proved to be the difference at the interval, 0-9 to 0-4.
WESTMEATH QUICKFIRE GOALS
But with the wind consolidating their strengths in attack, Westmeath eventually earned the initiative with a pair of quick-fire goals early in the second half from corner forward Aaron Rourke, and the lively Billy Berry around the 37th minute. Westmeath’s Aaron Roarke got on the end of a Cathal Daly delivery, while Cathal Mannion picked out Billy Berry for the Lake County’s second goal.
After the sides swapped pointed frees, Westmeath edged ahead by 2-7 to 0-11 with 15 minutes remaining.
The fluid linking of possession by Westmeath’s attack had culminated in a drive-by shooting around Wexford’s goalmouth. But then Wexford flung the gauntlet back at the midlanders with their own double salvo of goals.
With Wexford applying much more pressure on Westmeath’s defence, they eventually slipped through when Mark Rossiter saw his opportunity just outside the small square. Niall Gavin struck back with a fine point for Westmeath to level matters but then Shane Doyle raced through a labyrinth of players, completed a one-two with Mikey Dwyer and buried the ball in the town end net to put Wexford a goal clear.
When Wexford were troubled in the second half, the dual star pairing of Ciarán Kirwan and Ian Carty rose to the challenge.
With one minute of injury-time played, Joe Halligan pointed for Westmeath to leave just two between the sides. With danger ensuing on the Wexford goalline, sub Joe Gardiner denied Westmeath a vital equalising goal and Wexford’s Ian Carty’s scored an outstanding point at the end to put the seal on Wexford’s win.
Westmeath have faced Offaly twice this year in the Leinster league, with Offaly running out comfortable winners on both occasions and while Westmeath will be at home for this game, it will prove a very difficult assignment as Offaly almost defeated Dublin at the weekend.
teams and scorers
Scorers-Wexford: Mark Rossiter 1-9 (0-4 frees, 0-1 45′), Shane Doyle (1-0), Nick Doyle (0-2), Ian Carty (0-2), Mikey Dwyer (0-1).

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