Allianz HL D1: Tipperary too strong for Westmeath
Allianz Hurling League Division One Group A
TIPPERARY 3-27 WESTMEATH 0-16
By Daragh Small at Semple Stadium
Tipperary had to win here to keep their National Hurling League chances alive, and they claimed a facile 20-point victory over Westmeath at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
The reigning All-Ireland champions laid the platform when they took a big 2-14 to 0-7 lead into half-time following goals from Cian Darcy and Jake Morris.
But Jason Forde was the star throughout and the finished the first half with 0-9 to his name, his full-time tally was 0-14.
Séamus Callanan scored 1-1 late on and Westmeath were left to rue the sending off of Killian Doyle in the second half with their heroic display in defeat to Cork long forgotten.
Killian Doyle was only a late inclusion in the Westmeath starting 15 and he scored a couple of points to keep them in the game early on.
Jason Forde popped over two frees in the opening four minutes but Westmeath were level when Derek McNicholas scored a fine effort down the left wing.
Mark Kehoe and Doyle exchanged points but then Tipperary flexed their muscles and there was no stopping them between the 11th and 19th minutes.
Unfortunately for the visitors Tipperary’s domination stemmed from a mistake by Westmeath goalkeeper Aaron McHugh. He was forced into a mishit clearance by the Séamus Callanan, who was starting his first game this year, and when Darcy claimed possession he had the easiest of finishes.
Tipperary had scored three points in a row prior to that 16th minute strike, and another brilliant shot from Michael Breen yielded a 1-7 to 0-3 lead.
Killian Doyle hit back but it was only a momentary reprieve, Forde and Alan Flynn combined for two points each before the killer score from Morris.
Darcy burst through, looking to finish off his second goal and when Conor Shaw got in the hook, Morris flicked the ball to the net.
Doyle scored his fourth point but Westmeath were trailing 2-11 to 0-5 with six minutes of normal time remaining in the first half.
And Forde’s stunning sideline cut was the perfect way to round off the scoring before the break with Tipperary leading 2-14 to 0-7.
Forde piled on the pressure again on the restart, he brought his tally to double figures from a free, and then disaster struck for Westmeath.
Killian Doyle scored a free in the 39th minute but moments later he was given a straight red card for a collision with Seán O’Brien.
Westmeath were forced into a change of free-taker, and Allan Devine provided two quick points, but Tipperary were relentless. Ronan Maher got in on the scoring as the lead rose to 2-18 to 0-10.
Morris showed glimpses of his brilliance and he flashed over points in the 48th and 52nd minutes.
The game was already well over and it gave Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy the chance to bring on players with the experience of Noel McGrath.
McNicholas and Devine scored back-to-back but Westmeath were turning their attentions on the relegation play-off while Tipperary move towards a clash with Liam Cahill’s Waterford.
Scorers for Tipperary: Jason Forde 0-14 (9fs, 1 sideline), Jake Morris 1-3, Cian Darcy 1-1, Séamus Callanan 1-1, Ronan Maher 0-3, Alan Flynn 0-2, Michael Breen 0-2, Mark Kehoe 0-1.
Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 0-7 (6fs, 1 65), Allan Devine 0-5 (5fs), Derek McNicholas 0-2, Aonghus Clarke 0-1, Ciarán Doyle 0-1.
TIPPERARY: Brian Hogan; Cathal Barrett, Barry Heffernan, Seán O’Brien; Séamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher, Bryan O’Mara; Alan Flynn, Michael Breen; Jason Forde, Séamus Callanan, Niall O’Meara; Cian Darcy, Jake Morris, Mark Kehoe.
Subs: Craig Morgan for Barrett (44), Noel McGrath for Kehoe (48), Dillon Quirke for O’Brien (48), Paul Flynn for O’Meara (56), Paddy Cadell for Kennedy (66).
WESTMEATH: Aaron McHugh; Adam Ennis, Tommy Doyle, Conor Shaw; Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke, Liam Varley; Robbie Greville, Cormac Boyle; Joey Boyle, Derek McNicholas, Josh Coll; Killian Doyle, Allan Devine, Niall Mitchell.
Subs: Ciarán Doyle for Coll (23), Brian McHugh for Aaron McHugh (35), Darragh Clinton for J Boyle (48), Darragh Egerton for Ennis (58), John McCarthy for Mitchell (62).
REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).