McManus helps Antrim over Westmeath hurdle
Man of the match scores 2-4 as Saffrons secure a date against Laois
Westmeath’s Niall O’Brien scores a goal past Ryan McGarry of Antrim. Photograph: Inpho
ANTRIM 3-18 WESTMEATH 2-13
As expected, Antrim advanced to play Laois after a deserved eight-point win over Westmeath in the preliminary round of the Leinster senior hurling championship in front of just under 1,000 spectators at Mullingar yesterday afternoon.
The Ulster side started well and they led by 0-4 to 0-1 after seven minutes. However, a great goal from Westmeath’s Niall O’Brien drew the sides level in the tenth minute.
Neil McManus responded quickly with a well-taken goal but Westmeath got into their stride with Eoin Price prominent in midfield.
The home side had wind advantage in the first half, but they missed some good opportunities and they should have been more than two points (1-9 to 1-7) ahead at the interval.
The midlanders doubled their lead early in the second half. However, they only managed a point from a Derek McNicholas penalty in the 38th minute, whereas Antrim scored a goal from a similar award four minutes later via man of the match Neil McManus.
In truth, the visitors looked the more likely winners from that moment on, despite the bizarre sending off of substitute Karl Stewart within seconds of his introduction in the 50th minute.
Westmeath were also reduced to 14 men with 15 minutes remaining when McNicholas picked up a second yellow card. Antrim’s superior skill and work rate began to show and Conor Carson’s opportunist goal in the 58th minute put his side seven points ahead (3-12 to 1-11). Despite a late goal from Tommy Doyle, Westmeath never looked like clawing back that deficit and they now face into the precarious qualifier route next month.
ANTRIM: R McGarry; B McFall, A Graffin, M McFadden; C McKinley, N McAuley, J McGreevey (0-2); M Donnelly (0-1), T McCloskey (0-1); P Shiels (0-1), N McManus (2-4, 1-0 pen), E McCloskey (0-2); S McNaughton (0-5, 0-2f, 0-1 65), C Carson (1-0), S Beattie. Subs: C Mc Guinness for Beattie (21 mins), O McFadden for M McFadden (39 mins), K Stewart for McGuinness (48 mins), C Clarke (0-1) for Donnelly (58 mins), S Casey (0-1) for McNaughton (65 mins).
WESTMEATH: P Collins; T Gallagher, A Price, D Fennell; G Greville, A McGrath, T Doyle (1-0); E Price (0-4), R Greville (0-1); J Shaw, D McNicholas (0-5, 0-2 frees, 0-1 pen), J Clarke; N O’Brien (1-0), B Murtagh (0-2), A Clarke (0-1). Subs: C Jordan for Price (63 mins), J Boyle for J Clarke (67 mins), S Power for Fennell (inj 67 mins)..
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).