A goal in the 51st minute from corner forward Killian Doyle proved to be the decisive score as Westmeath survived the handicap of playing the entire second half with just 14 men to eke out a crucial win against neighbours Meath in the third and final round robin series of the Leinster senior hurling championship, in ideal conditions at Mullingar yesterday afternoon.
Westmeath had the aid of a slight wind in the opening half but it was Meath who raced into an early two-point lead. Michael Ryan’s charges were leading by 0-9 to 0-4 when Derek McNicholas picked up a straight red card in the 34th minute. A brace of fine points from substitute James Kelly had the deficit down to three points (0-9 to 0-6) at the interval.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Westmeath were four points to the good by the 45th minute.
However, three unanswered points brought the margin down to a point before Killian Doyle took a clever pass from Aonghus Clarke and drilled a low shot past Shane McGann.
Points followed from the outstanding Robbie Greville, Killian Doyle, and Allan Devine to put the Lake County well in control.
Meath threw everything into attack in the closing quarter of an hour but could never get closer than two points, with full back Tommy Doyle and centre half back Paul Greville in imperious form for Westmeath.
Scorers Westmeath: A Devine 0-9 (6fs), K Doyle 1-3, R Greville and A Clarke 0-2 each, D McNicholas and C Boyle 0-1 each.
Meath: S Clynch 0-5 (3fs), A Gannon 0-4, K Keoghan, J Kelly, D Kelly (1f) and S Quigley (2fs) 0-2 each, M O’Sullivan and G McGowan 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH: P Maloney; S Power, T Doyle, T Gallagher; A Craig, P Greville, C Shaw; A Clarke, G Greville; D McNicholas, K Doyle, C Boyle; A Devine, N Mitchell, R Greville.
Subs: N O’Brien for Gallagher (55), J Boyle for Mitchell (64), J Galvin for K Doyle (67), D Egerton for Shaw (70+2).
MEATH: S McGann; S Whitty, D Kelly, C Reilly; S Brennan, D Healy, K Keoghan; A Forde, S Geraghty; S Clynch, J Keena, K Keena; M O’Sullivan, N Heffernan, A Gannon.
Subs: J Kelly for K Keena (27), G McGowan for Heffernan (35+3), S Quigley for J Keena (58), C McCabe for O’Sullivan (60), P Kelly for Clynch (66).
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim).
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