All-Ireland SFC Group 2 Round 2: Westmeath 0-12 Galway 0-20
With a numerical advantage for the final quarter, Galway were flattered by their eight-point winning margin against a wholehearted Westmeath side in front of a big crowd in sun-drenched Mullingar on Saturday evening.
Dessie Dolan’s charges, playing with the wind, were deservedly two points ahead after five minutes, via a 45-metre free from John Heslin and a well-worked score finished by Ronan O’Toole.
Cathal Sweeney got Galway on the scoreboard in the seventh minute. Ray Connellan soon converted a ‘mark’ for the home team, but it needed great defending from both Jason Daly and James Dolan to prevent the Tribesmen from converting a triple-chance of a goal in the 10th minute at the expense of an unconverted ‘45′.
Points from Johnny Heaney and Paul Conroy edged Galway ahead by 0-5 to 0-4 after 22 minutes, but unanswered points from O’Toole, the lively Luke Loughlin, and Sam McCartan (a grandson of Galway legend Seán Purcell) restored the Lake County’s two-point lead. A rasping shot from the outstanding Peter Cooke came back off the crossbar in the 33rd minute, but Shane Walsh converted a free immediately afterwards. Westmeath led by 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval.
A Walsh free levelled the game for Pádraic Joyce’s troops within a minute of the restart. However, Westmeath continued to play with great determination and it needed Cian Hernon’s second outstanding point to tie the game at 0-11 each in the 50th minute.
The game turned two minutes later when strong claims for a Westmeath free some 25 metres from the Galway goal were waved away and it was the winners who got a free out for a handball on the ground by sub Senan Baker. Moments later, Connellan picked up a second yellow card for a foul on John Maher and it was very much a case of ‘advantage Galway’ with the wind behind them and a numerical advantage.
The introduction of Damien Comer in the 55th minute had an immediate impact and he fired over a rapid-fire brace to put his side 0-14 to 0-11 ahead. Sub Eoin Mulvihill scored what proved to be the losers’ last point on the hour mark and Galway scored six unanswered points in the closing stages to win with a bit to spare.
Despite their dominance, Galway never found the net late on, but Maher was superbly foiled by goalkeeper Daly, while Comer also unlucky with an audacious lob, and sub Paul Kelly had a goal disallowed for a throw-ball earlier in the move.
WESTMEATH: J Daly; J Smith (0-1), K Maguire, J Dolan; J Gonoud, R Wallace (0-1), A McCormack; S Duncan, R Connellan (0-1); S McCartan (0-1), R O’Toole (0-2), D Lynch; L Loughlin (0-2), J Heslin (0-2, one free), S Smith (0-1).
Subs: J Lynam for Duncan (20 mins), D Giles for J Smith (47), S Baker for S Smith (48), E Mulvihill (0-1) for Gonoud (55), C Dillon for McCormack (64).
GALWAY: C Gleeson; J McGrath, S Kelly, J Glynn; C Hernon (0-2), J Daly, C McDaid; P Conroy (0-1), P Cooke (0-4); M Tierney (0-1, a 45), C Sweeney (0-1), J Heaney (0-2, one mark); I Burke (0-1), R Finnerty, S Walsh (0-4, three frees).
Subs: T Culhane for Finnerty (7 mins), J Maher (0-1) for Culhane (46), D Comer (0-3) for Burke (55), P Kelly for Walsh (69), S Mulkerrin for Hernon (70+3).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).