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Allianz HL D1: Tipperary defeat spirited Westmeath

Tipperary senior hurling team manager Liam Cahill. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Tipperary senior hurling team manager Liam Cahill. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Allianz Hurling League Division One Group B

Tipperary 3-25 Westmeath 2-21

By Noel Dundon at FBD Semple Stadium

Tipperary saw the return of the established guard in Noel McGrath, Dan McCormack, Jason Forde and Conor Stakelum, as they swept aside visitors Westmeath to claim a third Allianz National Hurling League victory in succession at FBD Semple Stadium this afternoon.

The victory sets them up nicely for a crack at All-Ireland champions Limerick in round four at the TUS Gaelic Grounds in two weeks time. But, spare a thought for Westmeath sharp shooter David Williams who pilfered 2-12 on the day, and still ended up on the losing side.

Tipperary came into the game with a straight wins record whereas Westmeath were looking for their first points of the campaign.

Tipperary accumulated a commanding five point lead within 10 minutes - the returning Jason Forde hitting three of those along with Noel McGratrh and Mark Kehoe points.

Westmeath came into the play a bit and had six of the next eight points to leave it at 0-8 to 0-6 by the 24th minute - David Williams hitting four of those to go alongside Niall Mitchell and Tommy Doyle points.Sean Hayes and Cathal Quinn had two for Tipp in that period, but it was the two goal blast from corner forward Mark Kehoe in the 27th and 28th minutes which really put distance between the sides.

Tipp would finish the half 2-12 to 0-10 in front with Westmeath getting the last three scores through Joseph Boyle and David WIlliams (2), but they faced a real mountain in the second half.

The game was proving to be a stroll for Tipperary but with a lot of fringe players getting a run out and with the panel due to be cut this coming week, there was much for some of the players to prove.

Tipp raced from the traps again after the break and had opened up a 2-20 to 0-12 gap by the end of the third quarter. But a David Williams goal for Westmeath in the 18th minute was followed by another golden opportunity when Williams had a penalty chance a minute later - his effort was saved by Tipp keeper Rhys Shelly who dived well to make the stop.

Westmeath added a second goal in the 33rd minute through Williams again - as Westmeath reduced the deficit to four points thanks to subs Killian Doyle and David O'Reilly who had two apiece.

But, Tipp had the final score of the game - an own goal on the part of the misfortunate Westmeath keeper Noel Conaty who had saved twice before turning the ball into his own net.

While Westmeath had brought the deficit down considerably and are to be credited for their endeavours, Tipperary were always comfortable in the game.

Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-12 (11fs), Conor Stakelum 0-6, Mark Kehoe 2-1, Noel McGrath 0-3, Cathal Quinn, John Campion, Sean Hayes 0-1 each.

Scorers for Westmeath: David Williams 2-12 (9fs), Killian Doyle, David O'Reilly 0-2 each, Tommy Doyle, Peter Clarke, Joseph Boyle, Niall Mitchell, Ciaran Doyle 0-1 each.

Tipperary: Rhys Shelly, Johnny Ryan, Barry Heffernan, David Kelly, Dan McCormack, Brian McGrath, Seamus Kennedy, Noel McGrath, Cathal Quinn, Sean Hayes, Jason Forde, Conor Stakelum, Andrew Ormond, Billy Seymour, Mark Kehoe. Subs: Patrick Maher for Mark Kehoe;Joe Fogarty for Billy Seymour; Cian O'Dwyer for Andrew Ormond; John Campion for Cathal Quinn; Enda Heffernan for Barry Heffernan.

Westmeath: Noel Conaty,Johnny Bermingham,.Tommy Doyle, Conor Gaffney, Jack Gillen, Kevin Regan, Darragh Egerton, Shane McGovern, Peter Clarke, Owen McCabe, Darragh Clinton, Joseph Boyle, Niall Mitchell, Eoin Keyes, David Williams.

Subs: Ciaran Doyle for Eoin Keyes; David O'Reilly for Darragh Clinton; Aaron Craig for Jack Gillen; Robbie Greville for Shane McGovern; Killian Doyle for Owen McCabe.

Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).