Narrow one point victory for Galway over Westmeath

Allianz FL Division 1 Round 2: Westmeath 2-12 Galway 2-13: It’s an awful pity that Paddy Sweeney didn’t live to see this day. A stalwart of the Killannin club which also produced Kevin Walsh, Sweeney also served as an officer of Galway football board but was killed in a work accident over a year ago.

Narrow one point victory for Galway over Westmeath

His twin sons started for the first time in a league game for Galway yesterday, having starred on various underage teams over the years. Cathal turned in a rock solid day at corner-back but it was Patrick who stole the show with 1-5 from play from full-forward and also winning the penalty for the second.

It was some way to announce your arrival on the big stage and his late father, would have rightly been as proud as punch. Sweeney’s contribution has given rise to great expectation in Galway that his clubmate Kevin Walsh will end their four-year hibernation from the top flight in his first season in charge as they backed up their opening day win over Meath.

Westmeath, too, will take hope from this highly entertaining encounter which featured the more positive aspects of Gaelic football, with plenty of running play and an emphasis on attack on a day when a blanket of fog rather than blanket defences threatened more to ruin the spectacle.

Galway, struggling to deal with high balls and particularly the aerial threat of Daragh Daly, changed goalkeepers at half-time and Walsh also drafted in full-back Finian Hanley for his first game of the year.

Westmeath, bidding to back up their opening day win over Laois, used the high ball to plunder two goals in the opening half which twice saw them come from five points down to go in level at 2-6 apiece.

“There was some good, hard football out there,” said Walsh. “I would say it was a good spectacle. Westmeath will probably feel they should got a point but at this stage for both camps it is get guys wanting to win, wanting to be there and performing well. I think it was a good game overall.”

Few would have denied Westmeath a share of the spoils and they look to have got it when John Heslin reduced the margin to a point in the closing stages but then saw a 40-metre free float left and come back off the upright before being cleared.

“That was the difference in the game, we hit the post. These things happen,” said Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin. “That ball just didn’t go over for us and they got on it in the square. It could have dropped to one of our lads and next thing it is in the net and you are two points up. You need a little bit of luck in these things too.”

He will take hope from the way they responded to set-backs in the opening half. Sweeney rattled their net after just a minute as the Tribesmen surged 1-2 to 0-0 in front after four minutes.

But Daly’s presence in front of goal yielded dividends, tipping down a Lorcan Smyth delivery for his captain Ger Egan to score and then six minutes from the break he got a hand to Callum McCormack’s speculative effort for Kieran Martin to drill home a fine goal.

In between, though, Sweeney won a penalty when Darren Quinn did well to save from him but the goalkeeper then fouled him when he hit the rebound and Shane Walsh blasted home after a lengthy run-up.

The sides exchanged points in the third quarter with Heslin edging Westmeath in front for the only time after 48 minutes but Sweeney continued to pick off some great points along with Danny Cummins and they survived in the end by the width of the post after a great contest.

Scorers for Galway: P Sweeney 1-5, S Walsh 1-0 (1-0 pen), D Cummins 0-3, M Martin 0-1 (1f), A Varley 0-1, G O’Donnell 0-1, P Varley 0-1, S Denvir 0-1.

Scorers for Westmeath: J Heslin 0-7 (6f), K Martin 1-1, G Egan 1-0, C McCormack 0-2, L Smyth 0-1, D Lynch 0-1.

GALWAY: TJ Forde; D Kyne, C Forde, C Sweeney; P Varley, G Bradshaw, G O’Donnell (capt); F O Curraoin, T Flynn; S Denvir, S Walsh, E Tierney; D Cummins, P Sweeney, A Varley.

Subs: M Breathnach for TJ Forde (h-t), E Hoare for Tierney (h-t), F Hanley for C Forde (48), M Martin for Walsh (52), C Mulryan for A Varley (64).

WESTMEATH: D Quinn; M McCallon, K Maguire, J Gilligan; J Gonoud, K Martin, J Dolan; K Daly, P Sharry; C McCormack, G Egan (capt), D Daly; R Connellan, J Heslin, L Smith.

Subs: D Lynch for Gilligan (22), D Glennon for R Connellan (46), P Holloway for Lynch (55), J Connellan for Smyth (60), D Whelan for Dolan (65), A Coffey for J Connellan (65).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).

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