Westmeath get off to winning start in Leinster hurling championship round robin

Brendan Murtagh in the 50th minute proves to be the decisive score against Carlow

Westmeath’s Brendan Murtagh: his goal after  a quarter of an hour elapsed in the second half was key to his side’s victory over Carlow in Mullingar. Photograph: Inpho

Westmeath’s Brendan Murtagh: his goal after a quarter of an hour elapsed in the second half was key to his side’s victory over Carlow in Mullingar. Photograph: Inpho

 

Westmeath 2-19 Carlow 2-17 A brilliant goal from Brendan Murtagh in the 50th minute proved to be the decisive score as Westmeath eked out a deserved win over Carlow in an entertaining Leinster senior hurling championship round robin game played in showery conditions at Mullingar yesterday afternoon.

There was never much between the sides in the opening quarter. A mistake by Westmeath goalkeeper Peter Collins gifted Martin Kavanagh the first goal of the contest in the 21st minute. Two minutes later, with the sides on level terms (0-7 to 1-4), a bundled goal from lively corner forward Alan Devine put the home team in front.

With just two minutes of normal time remaining in the first half Westmeath were five points clear, but a well-taken goal from Séamus Murphy, either side of a point apiece from Craig Wall and Martin Kavanagh (a free) had the sides tied at the interval (1-12 to 2-9).

Tit-for-tat scoring on the change of ends meant the teams were still level when former Leinster player Brendan Murtagh blasted the ball superbly to the back of the net, with a quarter of an hour elapsed in the second half, having picked up a pass from the very influential Derek McNicholas. By now, McNicholas and Niall O’Brien were in fine form in the winners’ attack and Michael Ryan’s charges led by 2-19 to 2-14 with eight minutes remaining.

However, Westmeath failed to score in a tense finale and Carlow got the deficit down to two points, courtesy of scores from Martin Kavanagh (his second successful ‘65’), the outstanding Sean Murphy and substitute Paul Coady. Pat English’s troops had late claims for a penalty waved away, but the Lake County men defended tenaciously, with full back Tommy Doyle a tower of strength, and team captain Aonghus Clarke sweeping up very well at centre half back.

WESTMEATH: P Collins; S Power, T Doyle, A McGrath; A Craig, A Clarke, G Greville; C Boyle, E Price (0-2); A Devine (1-3), D McNicholas (0-3), R Greville; N O’Brien (0-7, three frees), B Murtagh (1-2), D Clinton (0-2). Subs: S McGovern for Collins (h-t), J Clarke for McGrath (51 mins), E Corrigan for Clinton (70 +2 mins). CARLOW: K Kehoe; R Coady, J Rogers, A Corcoran; E Coady (0-1), D English, G Coady; D Byrne, C Wall (0-2); Sean Murphy (0-3), E Byrne, J M Nolan (0-1); J Kavanagh, M Kavanagh (1-7, 0-4 frees, 0-2 ‘65’s), Seamus Murphy (1-2). Subs: P Coady (0-1) for Nolan (55 mins), D O’Neill for Wall (69 mins). Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow).

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