Armagh’s accuracy up front proves too much for wasteful Westmeath

Orchard County bounce back from Ulster final defeat with comfortable opening win in All-Ireland series

All-Ireland SFC Round 1: Armagh 0-16 Westmeath 0-11

Armagh’s experience and work ethic took them to a much-needed All-Ireland victory over Westmeath on Saturday night following their recent Ulster final setback at the hands of Donegal.

It may not have been all plain sailing but the Orchard County carried much more forward power than their opponents.

Yet Westmeath looked as if they might sustain their challenge following a bight opening in which they stayed on Armagh’s shoulder.

Conor Turbitt, Stefan Campbell, Tiernan Kelly and Conor O’Neill were all on target for the home side with Sam McCartan landing a brace of points for the visitors with Ronan O’Neill and Robbie Forde also scoring as the sides were level at 0-4 each.


But it was the home side who got their noses in front before the interval when Ciarán Mackin and Rory Grugan eased them into a 0-6 to 0-4 lead.

Yet when John Heslin and Ronan O’Toole looked as if they meant business by pilfering points at the start of the second half, Westmeath began to look more inventive.

However, their attempts to gain a more solid foothold in the game were thwarted by an Armagh side that carried a threat up front via Oisín Conaty, Grugan and Turbitt.

It was no surprise that this trio helped to underpin Armaagh’s scoring thrust with Grogan having helped himself to five points from play and frees.

Armagh opened a gap at 0-10 to 0-6 and Westmeath were undone by their inability to convert scoring chances that came their way.

Instead, Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney deployed his substitutes shrewdly with Aidan Nugent whisking over two points, Oisín O’Neill lending his verve and craft to the attack and Barry McCambridge having proved an extremely competent replacement for the injured Conor O’Neill.

Luke Loughlin fired over a late point for Westmeath but that is as good as it got for Dessie Dolan’s side in the closing stages of a game that ebbed and flowed without quite catching five.

ARMAGH: B Hughes; B McCambridge, A McKay, P McGrane; C O’Neill (0-1), C Mackin (0-1), A Forker; T Kelly (0-1), B Crowley; J McElroy, R Grugan (0-5, 0-2f), S Campbell (0-1); O Conaty (0-2), A Murnin, C Turbitt (0-3 0-1f).

Subs: G McCabe for O’Neill (25 mins); O O’Neill for Crealey (h-t); A Nugent (0-2) for Turbitt (59); J Óg Burns for Murnin (68),

WESTMEATH: J Daly; J Gonoud, K Maguire (0-2), J Dolan; S McCartan (0-2), R Wallace, C Drumm; R Connellan, D McCormack; J Lynam, R O’Toole (0-2), C Dillon; L Loughlin (0-1), J Heslin (0-3 0-2f), R Forde (0-1).

Subs: M Whittaker for Dillon (37 mins); D Lynch for Fire (54); K Martin for Gonoud (60); S Smith for Loughlin (68).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).