Limerick march on to knockout stages after nine-point win over Westmeath
Westmeath now face Carlow in relegation playoff next weekend
Robbie Greville and Liam Varley of Westmeath battle for possession with Brian Ryan of Limerick during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A game at the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Keith Wiseman/Inpho
Limerick 1-24 Westmeath 0-18
Limerick showed their difference in class to advance to the knockout stages of the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 thanks to a comfortable nine-point win over Westmeath at the LIT Gaelic Grounds on Sunday afternoon.
Limerick were nine points ahead at half-time thanks to eight points (seven frees) from David Reidy, Séamus Flanagan (three), Tom Morrissey (two) and scores from South Liberties’ duo Brian Ryan and Barry Nash.
John Kiely’s side had the strong breeze and hit three wides during the one-sided opening half.
Westmeath got their first point in the 18th minute when Jack Galvin slotted over from out wide but Limerick responded immediately and a superb Flanagan point put nine between the sides again.
Just shy of the half-hour mark Limerick should have extended their comfortable lead but Aaron McHugh did well to save a close-range effort from Flanagan – Graeme Mulcahy hitting the resulting rebound wide.
The nine-point advantaged remained intact at the interval – 0-15 to 0-6 in favour of the home side.
Westmeath fared better in the second half and took full advantage of a strong wind on Shannonside.
Limerick were reduced to 14 men for the final 20 minutes when Darragh O’Donovan was sent off for a challenge on Niall Mitchell in the middle of the field.
The flawless Derek McNicholas narrowed the deficit to five points with his seventh free of the game before substitute Josh Coll made it a four-point game.
O’Connell and Nash points came in response to move the lead back to six points.
David Dempsey secured the win for Limerick as the half-time substitute found the back of the net from the narrowest of angles with just two minutes left in regular time.
Just eight of Westmeath’s 18 points game from play but Shane O’Brien’s side put in a much better second half-time performance.
Westmeath face Carlow in a home tie in the relegation playoff next weekend.
LIMERICK: B Hennessy; S Finn, M Casey, A Costello; B Nash (0-2), D Hannon (capt), D Morrissey; J Considine, Darragh O’Donovan; D Reidy (0-8, seven frees), T Morrissey (0-7, two frees), B Ryan (0-2); D O’Connell (0-1), S Flanagan (0-4), G Mulcahy.
Subs: Kyle Hayes for G Mulcahy, D Dempsey (1-0) for D Reidy (both h-t); B O’Grady for Finn (42 mins); P O’Loughlin for D Hannon (52), R Hanley for J Considine (60).
WESTMEATH: A McHugh; D Egerton, T Doyle, C Shaw; A Ennis, A Clarke, L Varley; S Clavin (0-1), A Cox; C Boyle, D McNicholas (0-10, eight frees, two sl), R Greville; J Boyle, N Mitchell, J Galvin (0-2).
Subs: D Clinton (0-3) for A Ennis (27 mins); S McGovern for A Cox (34); J Coll (0-2) for J Boyle (h-t); J Gilligan for L Varley (45); B Doyle for D Egerton (65).
Referee: Shane Hynes (Galway).