Allianz HL D1: Westmeath survive relegation battle
Allianz Hurling League Division One relegation play/off
WESTMEATH 1-17 CARLOW 2-8
By Conor McKenna at TEG Cusack Park
Westmeath hurlers defeated Carlow to secure survival in Division one, with Shane O’Brien’s side claiming a deserved six-point victory, in TEG Cusack Park.
Westmeath played very well against the breeze in the opening half and had a seven-point lead at the interval, which proved to be crucial.
Carlow will be bitterly disappointed with the manner of this defeat, as they did not perform to anywhere near their potential and the six-point winning margin in no way flattered the hosts.
Westmeath started the match very well, as three Killian Doyle points gave them an early lead, though Carlow responded superbly, as points from Martin Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne and Jack Kavanagh levelled the tie.
A point from Doyle restored his sides advantage, before the same player found the net for the games first goal moments later, to give his side a four-point lead.
Doyle picked up the breaking ball, before beating the goalkeeper with the finish, much to the delight of the home contingent.
Martin Kavanagh’s free reduced the deficit, but Westmeath finished the half superbly, scoring four points without reply, to give themselves a 1-8 to 0-4 lead at the break.
Two scores from Chris Nolan left five points between the teams, but Westmeath responded, scoring the next four points in succession to stretch their lead to nine and the Lake County were in cruise control at this juncture.
The game looked over as a contest, when Doyle registered a point to leave ten between the sides, but Carlow scored two goals out of nowhere to bring themselves right back into contention.
The first one was a penalty, which Martin Kavanagh converted, before Diarmuid Byrne found the net with a flick to the net, after a Westmeath defender lost possession.
Doyle registered a superb side-line cut to settle Westmeath, before a late free from the same player sealed the win.
Carlow had Chris Nolan sent off on a second yellow card in stoppage time, with the referee calling a halt to proceedings shortly after, as Westmeath held out for a six-point win.
Westmeath will again compete in Division one next season, while Carlow are now demoted to Division 2A following this defeat.
Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 1-14 (10fs, 1 65, 1 sideline), Derek McNicholas 0-1, Shane Clavin 0-1, Darragh Clinton 0-1,
Scorers for Carlow: Martin Kavanagh 1-3 (1-0 pen, 3fs), Diarmuid Byrne 1-1, Chris Nolan 0-3 (2fs), Jack Kavanagh 0-1,
WESTMEATH: Aaron McHugh; Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle, Conor Shaw; Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke, Shane Clavin; Cormac Boyle, Eoin Price; Robbie Greville, Killian Doyle, Derek McNicholas; Darragh Clinton, Niall Mitchell, Jack Galvin.
Subs: Liam Varley for Aaron Craig (HT), Joey Boyle for Derek McNicholas (44), Josh Coll for Jack Galvin (49), Adam Ennis for Darragh Egerton (53), John Gilligan for Clinton (67).
CARLOW: Damien Jordan; Ross Smithers, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Alan Corcoran, David English, Gary Bennett; Kevin McDonald, Aaron Amond; Jack Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne, John Michael Nolan; Chris Nolan, Martin Kavanagh, Ted Joyce.
Subs: Jon Nolan for John Michael Nolan (18), Edward Byrne for Ted Joyce (44), Paul Coady for Jack Kavanagh (55), Richard Coady for Ross Smithers (61), Sean Whelan for Diarmuid Byrne (64).
REFEREE: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).