Waterford 3-22 Westmeath 0-14
Waterford secured the expected easy win over Westmeath but there was nothing comfortable about the first half.
The sides went in level at half time but it took a 32nd minute goal from Brian O’Sullivan to give the Déise parity, as Westmeath were the better team in that opening period.
The game got off to a very fractious start, with four yellow cards doled out inside three minutes but once it settled down, the hosts were first to the ball, quick to move it and finishing well.
Points from Derek McNicholas, Aonghus Clarke and Brendan Murtagh helped them establish an early 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
Waterford were completely reliant on Maurice Shanahan at this juncture, with both their scores coming from frees taken by the Lismore man.
He added the next two scores as well, while Kevin Moran equalised, but Westmeath pulled away once morewith points from McNicholas, Eoin Price and a wonderful score from 70m by Murtagh.
They were three points clear when O’Sullivan availed of Seamus Prendergast’s industry to find the Westmeath net.
Waterford seemed much more relaxed after the resumption and had points from Prendergast, O’Sullivan and Shanahan before Tommy Doyle hit back for Brian Hanley’s team.
Shanahan was on fire though and with more space available, made hay. Prendergast and O’Sullivan also prospered, with the latter bagging his second goal at the three-quarter mark.
Shanahan brought his tally to 1-9 when goaling in the game’s last act.
The loudest cheer of the day came as Tony Browne made his first appearance of the season, coming on as a 61st minute substitute for just two days short of his 40th birthday.
Browne caught the first ball that came his way out of the air but missed a chance to mark his return when shooting wide from 65m.
Scorers – Waterford: M Shanahan 1-9(4fs); B O’Sullivan 2-2; S Prendergast 0-3; K Moran, J Dillon 0-2 each; S Fives, D Fives, S O’Sullivan, J Barron 0-1 each
Westmeath: D McNicholas 0-6(4fs); B Murtagh 0-3; E Price 0-2; A Clarke, J Shaw, T Doyle 0-1 each
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, L Lawlor, N Connor, D Fives, M Walsh, R Barry; R Foley, K Moran, J Dillon, P Mahony, S O’Sullivan, M Shanahan, S Prendergast, B O’Sullivan. Subs: G O’Brien for Mahony (53); E Barrett for D Fives (55); D Twomey for Foley (57); T Browne for Barry (61); J Barron for Dillon (64)
Westmeath: P Collins; P Fennell, T Gallagher, L Varley, D Fennell, A McGrath, A Price, E Price, R Greville, B Murtagh, J Boyle, J Shaw, N O’Brien, D McNicholas, A Clarke. Subs: T Doyle for Shaw (38); G Greville for Gallagher (49); A Craig for O’Brien (65); S Power for R Greville (65); T Egan for Varley (66)