Westmeath 1-18 Kerry 1-13
Westmeath staged a strong second-half display, to maintain their unbeaten run in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship at Austin Stack Park, Tralee this afternoon.
Fresh from an impressive home victory over Offaly last weekend, Michael Ryan’s charges outscored their opponents by 1-11 to 0-5 in the second half, on the way to a five-point win.
In wet conditions, Kerry began brightly and led by 1-2 to 0-2 after 8 minutes following a Mikey Boyle goal.
Boyle finished to the net after good work initially by Shane Nolan.
The hosts continued to edge the lead, but Westmeath worked hard to level the tie entering the second quarter.
Cormac Boyle levelled matters at 0-6 to 1-3 after 19 minutes, with Kerry also wasteful in the opening quarter, firing four wides.
Kerry kicked on before the break, with Jack Goulding and Brendan O’Leary on target, to ensure a 1-6 to 0-6 lead.
Robbie Greville became Westmeath’s seventh different scorer, as he cut the gap to two points, but a brace of Nolan pointed frees gave Kerry a 1-8 to 0-7 interval advantage.
Free-taker Nolan, who scored four first-half points, was replaced by Philip Lucid at half-time, and this proved to be a blow for Kerry as the visitors dug deep on the restart.
Westmeath began the second half strongly with three points in as many minutes, to cut the gap to the minimum, before Cormac Boyle levelled the tie with his second point of the half.
Momentum was firmly with Westmeath at this stage, a Mikey Boyle point nine minutes into the half, breaking Westmeath’s lightning start.
The Lake County continued to work hard, with Derek McNicholas finished a well worked goal, after indecision in the Kerry defence.
Ahead for the first time in the game, Westmeath kicked on and pushed 1-14 to 1-9 clear 19 minutes into the half.
Lucid replied with a pointed free for Kerry, but his side struggled to get to grips with a now very in-form Westmeath side.
Kerry cut the gap to three points in the 49th minute, but Westmeath were flying with Aonghus Clarke, Niall O’Brien and McNicholas hugely impressive.
The hosts woes were compounded late on with a red card for Mikey Boyle.
Westmeath will be aiming to maintain their unbeaten run in a fortnight’s time, when they travel to Netwatch Cullen Park to face Carlow.
Also on May 22nd, Kerry take on Offaly in O’Connor Park, Tullamore.
Kerry: Aidan McCabe; Bryan Murphy, Patrick Kelly, Keith Carmody; Jason Diggins, Darren Dineen, Tom Murnane; John Griffin, Daniel Collins; Brendan O’Leary (0-2), Michael O’Leary (0-1), Shane Nolan (0-4,0-4 f); Jack Goulding (0-2), Mikey Boyle (1-1), John Egan (0-1). Subs: Philip Lucid (0-2, 2f) for S Nolan (HT); Jordan Conway for M O’Leary (45); Tommy Casey for J Griffin (56); John Buckley for Daniel Collins (64); Brandon Barrett (0-1) for J Goulding (68).
Westmeath: Paddy Maloney; Shane Power, Tommy Doyle, Tommy Gallagher; Aaron Craig, Garry Greville, Aonghus Clarke (0-1); Cormac Boyle (0-3), Eoin Price (0-2); Alan Devine (0-1), Derek McNicholas (1-3), Robbie Greville (0-2); Liam Varley (0-1), Darragh Egerton, Niall O’Brien (0-4, 4f). Subs: Niall Mitchell for T Gallagher (25); Brendan Murtagh (0-1) for D Egerton (58); Warren Casserly for Alan Devine (67); Darragh Clinton for Price (70); Conor Shaw for Power (70); Alan McGrath for McNicholas (70).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)