Westmeath 2-22 Offaly 1-11: Offaly manager Eamonn Kelly shouldered the blame for “one of the low points” of his time in hurling as Westmeath romped to a deserved 14-point Leinster championship win over his side at Cusack Park in Mullingar.
A shockingly poor 70 minutes from the Faithful county means they must beat Carlow and Kerry in their remaining round-robin games to have some hope of reaching the knock-out stages.
From the first whistle Westmeath were the better, more skilful side.
With Eoin Price in brilliant form around the half-forward line and full-back Tommy Doyle underlining his rising reputation with a top drawer performance, Michael Ryan’s side never looked second best.
“It was a good performance from start to finish. Everybody worked really hard. For the last few weeks in training we felt this performance was going to come,” said Ryan.
Before the action really warmed up Offaly held a 0-2 to 0-1 lead, but once Derek McNicholas fired a bullet shot to the net the visitors totally collapsed.
Eight of the next 10 points came from the home side, and they could have had another goal as it appeared the ball rebounded out of the net off James Dempsey’s hurley bag after 18 minutes.
Offaly trailed 1-9 to 0-7 at half-time, which was not indicative of Westmeath’s dominance, but into a strong wind after the break, Ryan’s men fired five points in five minutes to pull out of sight.
“It was a difficult day, I had a lot of good days in hurling but this is probably one of the low points,” said the Offaly manager. “It was difficult. I take the blame myself, we had a game plan where we tried to attack the space up front and it didn’t go according to plan.
“We reverted but still Westmeath were hungrier, they were more confident on the ball, their touch looked better.”
Paddy Murphy’s soft goal 17 minutes from time was the highlight for Offaly, but Price fired a brilliant second goal for Westmeath in the last minute to give the win a deserved gloss.
Scorers for Westmeath:
N O’Brien 0-7 (5f), E Price 1-5, D McNicholas 1-2, C Boyle 0-3, L Varley 0-2, D Egerton 0-1, A Devine 0-1, D Clinton 0-1.
Scorers for Offaly:
P Murphy 1-1, S Dooley 0-3 (3f), S Ryan 0-2, S Kinsella 0-2, K Kiely 0-2, J Bergin 0-1 (1f).
P Maloney; S Power, T Doyle, T Gallagher; A Craig, A Clarke, G Greville; C Boyle, R Greville; A Devine, N O’Brien, E Price; L Varley, D McNicholas, D Egerton.
D Clinton for Varley (60), N Mitchell for Devine (63), B Murtagh for Egerton (68), A McGrath for Gallagher (70), J Galvin for Boyle (71).
J Dempsey; D Mooney, C McDonald, P Rigney; S Ryan, D Kelleher, P Camon; P Murphy, S Kinsella; C Egan, S Dooley, J Mulrooney; K Connolly, J Bergin, B Conneely.
K Kiely for Mulrooney (28), S Cleary for Conneely (35), P Guinan for Dooley (35), D Shortt for Kelleher (52), D King for Connolly (52), K Connolly for Ryan (60).
Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).
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