Galway retain focus against spirited Westmeath
Goals from Patrick Sweeney and Shane Walsh set up Division Two victory
Galway’s Shane Walsh scores his side’s second goal despite the efforts of Westmeath’s goalkeeper Darren Quinn during their Division Two match at Cusack Park, Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Inpho
Galway were pushed all the way by a spirited Westmeath side before eking out a one-point win in a terrific game played in foggy conditions at Mullingar on Sunday.
Kevin Walsh’s troops got off to a great start, scoring 1-2 between the second and fourth minutes – the goal to open the scoring coming from man-of-the-match Patrick Sweeney.
A brace of points from John Heslin, the second of them a great score from play, steadied the home side. A well-taken goal from team captain Ger Egan levelled the contest at 1-3 apiece in the 14th minute.
The otherwise-inconspicuous Shane Walsh converted a 20th-minute penalty after Sweeney was fouled to restore Galway’s five-point lead. However, Westmeath were playing with great spirit and were rewarded with a fine goal from centre half back Kieran Martin in the 29th minute. The sides were tied at 2-6 each at the end of a riveting first half.
Tit-for-tat scoring continued on the change of ends, with Tom Cribbin’s men eventually taking the lead for the first time in the 45th minute courtesy of a Heslin free.
Some 10 minutes later, with the sides on level terms, Ger Egan seemed certain to score Westmeath’s third goal but Galway sub goalkeeper Manus Breathnach pulled off a great save.
Points from a tricky free by another sub, Michael Martin, and from open play by the powerful Sweeney (awarded after the referee consulted his umpires) put the Tribesmen two points clear, but Kieran Martin soon halved the deficit with a great score.
Galway were two points to the good with three minutes remaining. Heslin slotted over a 40-metre free as the excitement mounted. The same player hit the upright from another free from a similar distance on the stroke of 70 minutes, allowing Galway to wind down the clock in injury-time, thereby maintaining their 100 per cent start to the campaign.
GALWAY: TJ Forde; D Kyne, C Forde, C Sweeney; P Varley (0-1), G Bradshaw, G O’Donnell (0-1); F Ó Curraoin, T Flynn; S Denvir (0-1), S Walsh (1-0, pen), E Tierney; D Cummins (0-3), P Sweeney (1-5), A Varley (0-1). Subs: E Hoare for Tierney, M Breathnach for TJ Forde (both h-t), F Hanley for C Forde (48 mins), M Martin (0-1, free) for Walsh (52 mins), C Mulryan for A Varley (62 mins).
WESTMEATH: D Quinn; M McCallon, J Gilligan, K Maguire; K Daly, K Martin (1-1), J Dolan; P Sharry, D Daly; C McCormack (0-2), G Egan (1-0), R Connellan; J Gonoud, J Heslin (0-7, six frees), L Smyth (0-1). Subs: D Lynch (0-1) for Gilligan (22 mins), D Glennon for R Connellan (48 mins), P Holloway for Lynch (55 mins), J Connellan for Smyth (59 mins), A Coffey for J Connellan ( 64 mins), D Whelan for Dolan (65 mins).
Referee: C Reilly (Meath)