By John Fallon at Cusack Park
Limerick 4-15 Westmeath 1-12
Limerick may have got two goals in the opening 13 minutes but they only made the game safe in the closing stages against a battling Westmeath side this afternoon.
The heavy rain made hurling difficult in Mullingar, but notions that Limerick would run away with it when Kevin Downes and Seanie Tobin struck for early goals did not materialise.
Westmeath, perhaps buoyed by the exploits of their footballers last week, were full of endeavor although Limerick did not help their cause by squandering a host of goal chances.
Tobin’s goal put Limerick 2-2 to 0-2 in front but Westmeath responded to the challenge superbly with the impressive Brendan Murtagh hitting two excellent points.
And then the prospects of a shock result began to surface when midfielder Cormac Boyle finished a great move by blasting to the roof of the net.
Westmeath followed that up with points from Murtagh, Boyle and Derek McNicholas to lead by 1-7 to 2-2 after 26 minutes.
Limerick, though, finished the half with four points in a row from Shane Dowling, Paul Brown and two from Tobin to lead by 2-6 to 1-7 at the break.
Limerick struck for a goal from Brown within a minute of the restart to leave Westmeath with a huge battle on their hands to get back into the game.
Yet, Michael Ryan’s men never gave up and points from Boyle, McNicholas and Murtagh kept them in touch.
Kevin Downes and Dowling found the range for Limerick but efforts from Murtagh and Emmet Corrigan cut the gap to 3-10 to 1-12 with ten minutes left.
But Limerick made the game safe in the dying moments and pulled away with Adrian Breen getting their fourth goal as TJ Ryan’s men hit 1-5 without reply in the closing ten minutes.
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling 1-3 (0-1f), K Downes 1-2, P Brown 1-1, S Tobin 0-3, D Hannon 0-3 (1f, 1’65), A Breen 1-0, G Mulcahy 0-2, T O’Brien 0-1.
Scorers for Westmeath: B Murtagh 0-6 (2f), C Boyle 1-2, D McNicholas 0-2, E Corrigan 0-1, A Devine 0-1
Limerick: N Quaid; T Condon, R McCarthy, S O’Brien; P O’Brien, G O’Mahony, W McNamara; J Ryan, P Browne; D Breen, S Tobin, S Dowling; C Lynch, K Downes, G Mulcahy.
Subs: D Morrissey for Condon (26), T O’Brien for Lynch (44), D Hannon for Tobin (52), A Breen for Dowling (57),
Westmeath: S McGovern; S Power, T Doyle, K Duncan; A Craig, A Clarke, A McGrath; C Boyle, J Clarke; A Devine, D McNicholas, L Varley; N O’Brien, B Murtagh, R Greville.
Subs: D Clinton for O’Brien (46), E Corrigan for McNicholas (50), K Murphy for Craig (57), N Mitchell for Power (63).
Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow).