Leinster SFC: Tom Cribbin's Westmeath advance
Leinster SFC Semi-Final
Westmeath 1-12 Kildare 1-11
By Daragh O'Conchuir at Croke Park
It was a little nervy right at the end, but Westmeath were deserving winners as they look forward to an historic second consecutive Leinster final appearance under Tom Cribbin.
Cribbin would have been concerned early in the second half as his native county, Kildare, pulled six points clear.
It looked like curtains in such a defensive game when Tommy Moolick goaled in the 39th minute after good work from Neil Flynn.
Eoghan O’Flaherty pointed brilliantly three minutes later and it was looking good for Cian O’Neill’s charges. They didn’t score for another 28 minutes, while Westmeath bagged 1-6 in that period.
The excellent Paul Sharry shot a classy score in the next phase of play however and a poor kickout from Mark Donnellan led to a point from Ray Connellan.
The momentum shift was noticeable, even at that juncture as Connellan reduced the margin to a goal and that was wiped out by James Dolan in the 48th minute, after good work from John Heslin and Callum McCormack, who had just entered the fray.
Heslin (free), Kieran Martin and McCormack raised white flags and there was only one team in it.
They looked to hold on and nearly didn’t, Cathal McNally having a goal disallowed as referee Derek O’Mahoney adjudged Moolick to have committed an offence when challenging Darren Quinn.
Flynn slotted a couple of frees, having missed two difficult opportunities and struck the upright prior to that but the Lakesiders just held on.
They were only a point down, 0-7 to 0-6 at half time despite holding the upper hand in the opening quarter and were good value for a three-point lead by the 20th minute.
Sharry got them off the mark with a brilliant point in the third minute, but their next four scores were all from placed balls, John Heslin landing three frees and Sharry a 45.
Having struggled initially to break through the packed Westmeath rearguard, Kildare began to make inroads, particularly down the left flank where Emmet Bolton was enjoying himself coming from deep positions.
The Eadestown man slotted two points and did the donkey work for Niall Kelly to score as the Lilywhites drew level.
They hit the front for the first time in the 34th minute, when Adam Tyrrell kicked a wonderful score and came out firing after the resumption.
They couldn’t sustain the effort though, fizzling out in a manner all too familiar to their second half effort against Wexford and must now contemplate what the qualifiers might throw up, while Westmeath can prepare for another provincial decider.
Scorers for Westmeath: J Heslin 0-4 (4fs), J Dolan 1-0, P Sharry 0-3 (145), K Martin 0-2, R Connellan 0-2, C McCormack 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: N Flynn 0-4 (4fs), T Moolick 1-0, E Bolton 0-2, N Kelly 0-1, J Byrne 0-1, F Conway 0-1, E O'Flaherty 0-1, A Tyrell 0-1.
Westmeath: D Quinn, J Gonoud, K Maguire, K Daly, A Stone, F Boyle, J Dolan, G Egan, D Corroon, D Lynch, P Sharry, R Connellan, K Martin, J Heslin, J Connellan.
Subs: J Egan for Martin blood (8-16), C McCormack for Stone (47), J Egan for J Connellan (57), R Foley for R Connellan (63), R Gorman for Maguire BC (70+4)
Kildare: M Donnellan, P Kelly, D Hyland, O Lyons, J Byrne, E Doyle, C O’Donoghue, T Moolick, F Conway, E Bolton, M O’Flaherty, E O’Flaherty, A Tyrrell, N Kelly, N Flynn.
Subs: C McNally for Tyrrell (45), K Murnaghan for Bolton (50), C Healy for N Kelly BC (55), C Fitzpatrick for O’Donoghue (57), E Callaghan for O’Flaherty (60), R Houlihan for Byrne (67).
Referee: D O’Mahony (Tipperary)