Kildare 3-23 Westmeath 1-12
Kildare moved themselves to within 70 minutes of a place in the Division 2 final with a commanding display in dispensing with a fairly poor Westmeath at sun-kissed St Conleth’s Park today.
The Lakesiders did have one of the best performers on the pitch in Denis Glennon, who gave former All-Star defender Peter Kelly a torrid time.
Glennon had absolutely no support in attack though, and apart from the pacy, accurate Tyrrellspass man, they were very laboured in that department.
In contrast, Kildare had numerous threats up front, primarily in the shape of Mikey Conway and James Kavanagh. Tomás O’Connor and Alan Smith also gave the Westmeath defence plenty to think about.
Westmeath were fairly competitive in the early exchanges, Ronan Foley getting them a second minute lead. Within seconds, Mikey Conway had a shot at goal deflected for a 45, which Eoghan O’Flaherty converted.
Glennon fired over a couple of points as he beat Kelly out to the ball and finished well but with Mick Foley in particular a dominant figure at midfield, Westmeath could not get enough ball to him.
From a position in which they led by a point after eight minutes, Westmeath found themselves falling 13 points in arrears, as Kildare embarked on a crippling scoring blitz.
O’Connor, Kavanagh and O’Flaherty had points before Kavanagh goaled in the 18th minute.
Darren Quinn was included between the posts after Gary Connaughton failed a late fitness test and though he got two hands to Kavanagh’s shot, he could only deflect it into the corner of the net.
Kavanagh and Conway added some delightful points but Westmeath were given some form of a lifeline when Kieran Martin was fouled in the square and Derek Brazil had no option but to award a penalty.
David Glennon sent Shane Connolly the wrong way with a low shot and it was 1-13 to 1-4 at half time.
Denis Glennon added a couple of more points from play early in the second half, prompting Kildare to move Ollie Lyons onto him.
That was as good as it got for Westmeath though, as Kildare continued to rack up the points, while creating a number of goal opportunities.
Emmet Bolton took a lay-off from O’Connor to grab goal number two in the 44th minute, before Smith weighted his pass to Kavanagh brilliantly eight minutes later for the Ballymore man to grab his second major.
Glennon and John Heslin did convert the odd free but this game was long over.
Kildare were able to give more valuable game time to Dermot Earley and a number of other panellists and will look to the future with confidence.
Kildare: S Connolly; O Lyons, P Kelly, M O’Flaherty; E Bolton 1-1, H McGrillen, B Flanagan 0-1; M Foley, P O’Neill 0-2; J Doyle 0-1, M Conway 0-6(3fs), E O’Flaherty 0-5 (3fs, 2 45s); A Smith 0-3, T O’Connor 0-1, J Kavanagh 2-2. Subs: R Sweeney for O’Neill (53); P Fogarty 0-1 for Doyle (55); D Earley for Foley (55); G White for M O’Flaherty (60); K Ennis for Bolton (64)
Westmeath: D Quinn; K Maguire, M Curley, P Sharry; D McDermott, A Finnan, B Moran; P Bannon, J Heslin 0-3(fs); R Foley 0-1, G Egan, C McCormack; K Martin 0-1, Denis Glennon 0-7(5fs), David Glennon 1-0(pen). Subs: D Gavin for McDermott (49); K Sheridan for Moran (55); M Gorman for McCormack (59); A Giles for Egan (67)
Referee: D Brazil (Offaly).