Canning and Whelan see Galway off to winning start against Westmeath

Canning and Whelan see Galway off to winning start against Westmeath

Galway 1-24 - 0-10 Westmeath

Conor Whelan’s first half goal paved the way for Galway as Shane O’Neill’s side got their national hurling league Division 2 campaign off to a winning start against 14-man Westmeath.

Joe Canning landed 12 points for his side, while Tadhg Haran scored six points from play against an outclassed Westmeath who had Aonghus Clarke sent off six minutes before half-time.

After winning the toss and playing with the stiff breeze at their backs Westmeath would have hoped for more from their first-half exploits, but one point from play, seven Killian Doyle frees and a red card from Aonghus Clarke meant their hopes had faded by the interval.

Less than a minute had been played when Joe Canning cut back on his right and fired over a lovely point to start the scoring, but for the next ten minutes Westmeath played the better hurling. Two Doyle frees put them ahead by the fifth minute, a spell that they used the ball well out of defence, but after Canning and Doyle exchanged frees Westmeath’s challenge plummeted.

With goalkeeper Eanna Murphy setting the standard with his accurate passing from the back, Galway began to find space and free men, and five points without reply, including good scores from Tadhg Haran and Cathal Mannion had them 0-7 to 0-3 clear by the 15th minute.

The killer score arrived two minutes later. The Mannion brothers Padraic and Cathal swapped passes in defence before team captain Padraic found Conor Whelan unmarked in the full forward line, and the Kinvara player rattled the roof of the net from a very tight angle.

With referee Johnny Murphy proving very strict on every foul it was no shock to see Canning and Doyle adding to their tallies, but Westmeath’s hopes sustained another blow six minutes from the break when Clarke sent of for a high tackle on Canning.

After another couple of Canning frees, Haran clipped over his second score from the right and Galway were good value for the 1-12 to 0-8 lead they had assembled by the interval.

A point from Sean Linnane stretched Galway’s lead two minutes after the resumption, but his opposite number Cormac Boyle added a better one following a strong solo run.

But with Padraic Mannion operating as the spare man at centre back it was increasingly tough for Westmeath to deliver good ball into their forwards.

Haran continued his impressive performance with a third point, before substitute Sean Bleahene punished a stray pass from Eoin Price with a score.

Whelan left two good goal chances unclaimed, but Galway reeled off eight points on the spin to cruise to the win.

Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-12 (9f, 1’65), Tadhg Haran 0-6, Conor Whelan 1-0, Cathal Mannion 0-3, Sean Linnane 0-1, Sean Bleahene 0-1, Tom Monaghan 0-1

Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 0-7 (7f), Darragh Clinton 0-2 (1f), Cormac Boyle 0-1

Galway: E Murphy; D Morrissey, G McInerney, TJ Brennan; J Coen, P Mannion (c), A Tuohey; S Linnane, T Haran; D Kilcommins, J Canning, C Mannion; J Flynn, C Whelan, J Mannion.

Subs: A Harte for Coen (h-t), S Bleahene for J Mannion (43), T Monaghan for Flynn (57), J Grealish for Linnane (57), P Killeen for Morrissey (68)

Westmeath: A McHugh; A Ennis, T Doyle, J Bermingham; S Clavin, A Clarke, A Craig; C Boyle, L Varley; K Doyle, J Boyle, R Greville; D Clinton, E Price, N Mitchell,

Subs: B Doyle for Bermingham (19), J Gilligan for Varley (h-t), C Doyle for K Doyle (42), A Cox for Greville (52), J Galvin for Price (64)

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).

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