Victorious Kieran Martin bloodied in attack after final-whistle

Westmeath 0-13 Offaly 0-12: There were unsavoury scenes at the end of this Leinster SFC quarter-final, as Westmeath star Kieran Martin was struck after the final whistle.

Victorious Kieran Martin bloodied in attack after final-whistle

But not even the blood dripping from the Maryland attacker’s nose could detract from his satisfaction of a hard-fought derby win over Offaly.

It was the rivals’ first meeting in the championship since 2008, and while well contested, there was no real hint of the enmity that led to the altercation.

No one was commenting on who had struck the blow and Martin himself was anxious to downplay it as a heat-of-the-moment occurrence.

“These things happen” said Martin. “We won at the end of the day. If we lost, I’d probably still be on the ground, but we got the win. Things happen after games. Lads got riled up, once it’s off the pitch, that’s it.”

Instead Martin was keen to credit a defensive unit in which James Dolan and Jamie Gonoud excelled for laying the foundation for the narrow win.

“It was a great win. They got a bit of run and we just did well to hold it out. The defence was tremendous, they were fired up and it was incredible to watch it. We probably should’ve got a few more scores, but they did the work for us.

“There was a lot of pressure. Offaly had that win [against Longford] behind them and we were coming in fresh, but we worked hard. Jamie Gonoud was sensational, and we need lads like that. I know we’ve a few lads gone off the panel, but we’ve others willing to step up and do it.”

Westmeath boss Tom Cribbin described Dolan as “incredible”, with the half-back effecting at least four blocks before finishing a move involving John Heslin and Denis Corroon to slot the winner in the first minute of extra time.

It put two between the sides and, though Offaly’s best player Peter Cunningham got a magnificent one in reply, time ran out for the Faithful.

They had their chances but will rue a dreadful first half when they turned over possession in contact, but also through unforced errors that will really haunt them.

A lack of concentration by goalkeeper Alan Mulhall conceded a needless 45 when the ball slipped through his hands when he was unchallenged. Paul Sharry slotted and it was the type of avoidable mistake that would madden management. Offaly boss Pat Flanagan was crestfallen as he approached the press, having fulfilled his other media duties.

“It’s exceptionally difficult to accept” said the Offaly supremo.” We slipped up in the League by not getting up into Division 2 and now we’ve slipped up here by not winning this game, a game that probably we should have won.

“I felt we had the better of it in the second half and we had opportunities and we didn’t take them. A couple of decisions went against us as well and we wind up losing by a point. It’s very, very difficult to take.”

He said he was unworried at the break, as his side went in trailing by 0-9 to 0-3, and put their struggles down to the wind, but it was terrible fare.

Most of the quality came from Westmeath, who were able to isolate John Heslin inside on Sean Pender early on and, after lacking a bit of strength with an early effort off his left boot, the St Loman’s sharpshooter swung over a couple of wonderful scores to help Westmeath open up a gap. He added two points from frees to augment efforts from Corroon and the brilliant John Connellan and they led by six at half-time.

Offaly looked much more tuned in after the resumption and could have had a couple of goals early on. Dolan denied Graham Guilfoyle with another brilliant block, but Westmeath retreated and Nigel Dunne slotted frees to gradually claw Offaly back into it. Cunningham and Niall McNamee also scored and, while they got to within one on four occasions, they could never draw level.

Heslin came up with a vital score in response, despite having been starved of possession and later on, with four minutes left, Martin produced a brilliant finish.

Westmeath were not to be denied.

Scorers for Westmeath:

J Heslin (0-5, 2fs); J Connellan (0-3); P Sharry (0-2, 1 45); K Martin, J Dolan, D Corroon (0-1 each).

Scorers for Offaly:

N Dunne (0-6, 5 frees); P Cunningham (0-2); G Guilfoyle, B Allen, N McNamee, J Moloney (0-1 each).

WESTMEATH:

D Quinn, K Daly, F Boyle, J Gonoud, J Dolan, A Stone, K Maguire, D Corroon, G Egan, D Lynch, J Connellan, C McCormack, P Sharry, K Martin, J Heslin

Subs:

J Egan for Lynch (39), B Sayeh for McCormack (56), D Daly for J Egan for (65), P Fagan for Daly (65), L Dolan for Connellan (66).

OFFALY:

A Mulhall, S Pender, E Rigney, B Darby, N Darby, P Cunningham, J O’Connor, N Smith, E Carroll, G Guilfoyle, N Dunne, M Brazil, B Allen, N McNamee, J Moloney.

Subs:

A Sullivan for Guilfoyle BC (43), N Bracken for Brazil (53), S Doyle for Allen (61), C Donohue for Dunne BC (70+2).

Referee:

P O’Sullivan (Kerry)

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.