Allianz HL D1: Waterford overcome spirited Westmeath
Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A
WATERFORD 3-18 WESTMEATH 1-15
By Conor McKenna at TEG Cusack Park
Waterford claimed a nine-point victory over Westmeath in Mullingar.
Waterford were in control of proceedings throughout, but were wasteful up front with their shooting and made heavy weather of this victory.
Westmeath would have reason to be pleased with their performance, but ultimately the gulf in quality shone through, though Shane O’Brien’s side will be disappointed with the concession of two goals in first half stoppage time.
Waterford made a superb start to the match, with scores from Iarlaith Daly, Dessie Hutchinson and Stephen Bennett giving them an early lead, before an Eoin Price point opened Westmeath’s account.
Waterford responded with the next four points, before Darragh Clinton pointed for the hosts, though Bennett got the games first goal in the 17th minute, after being set up by Patrick Curran.
Westmeath responded with two points and the gap was at seven points heading into stoppage time, though Waterford scored two goals in that period to kill of the game.
Jack Fagan reacted quickest to the breaking ball to find the back of the net and Bennett added a superb solo goal moments later, as his side went into half time with a 3-10 to 0-6 lead.
There was a complete lack of intensity in the stadium after half-time, as there was virtually nothing at stake, with Westmeath playing for little more than pride, though Clonkill’s Niall Mitchell found the net in the 54th minute to leave ten between the teams.
Bennett’s 66th minute penalty was saved by the Westmeath goalkeeper and the same player had a goal disallowed for square ball moments later, though Waterford held out for a nine point win.
They will now face Limerick in two weeks time, while Cork are Westmeath’s next opponents.
Scorers for Waterford: Stephen Bennett 2-8 (4fs, 4 “65s”), Jack Fagan 1-0, Darragh Lyons 0-2, Patrick Curran 0-2, Jake Dillon 0-1, Billy Nolan 0-1, Pauric Mahony 0-1, Mikey Kearney 0-1, Iarlaith Daly 0-1, Dessie Hutchinson 0-1.
Scorers for Westmeath: Niall Mitchell 1-6 (5fs), Ciaran Doyle 0-4, Allan Devine 0-2, Eoin Price 0-1, Darragh Clinton 0-1, Shane McGovern 0-1.
WATERFORD: Billy Nolan; Shane Fives, Conor Prunty, Shane McNulty; Kieran Power, Darragh Fives, Iarlaith Daly; Jake Dillon, Mark O’Brien; Neil Montgomery, Darragh Lyons, Jack Fagan; Dessie Hutchinson, Stephen Bennett, Patrick Curran.
Subs: Mikey Kearney for Mark O’Brien (27), Billy Power for Dessie Hutchinson (42), Pauric Mahony for Neil Mongomery (49), Kevin Moran for Kieran Power (56), Tom Barron for Patrick Curran (67).
WESTMEATH: Aaron McHugh; Brendan Doyle, Tommy Doyle, Adam Ennis; Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke, Shane Clavin; Cormac Boyle, Eoin Price; Joey Boyle, Derek McNicholas, Robbie Greville; Niall Mitchell, Darragh Clinton, Darragh O’Reilly.
Subs: Allan Devine for Darragh O’Reilly (17), Ciaran Doyle for Darragh Clinton (35 + 1), Alan Cox for Brendan Doyle (41), Shane McGovern for Derek McNicholas (53), John Gilligan for Robbie Greville (61).
REFEREE: Sean Stack (Dublin).