McDonagh Cup: Westmeath overcome Antrim
Joe McDonagh Cup Round Four
WESTMEATH 0-29 ANTRIM 0-21
From David Mohan in Dunloy
Westmeath booked their place in the Joe McDonagh Cup final as they produced a powerful display to defeat Antrim at a gloomy Dunloy this afternoon.
Joe Quaid's side traveled north off the back of their defeat to Kerry last time out, but they responded brilliantly with Killian Doyle leading the way with 17 points over the course of the game.
Antrim simply didn't reach the performance levels found during their win against Offaly last week as they seemed off colour as they relied on 13 Neil McManus points from placed balls to keep them somewhat in the hunt, but much of this was down to the visitors who hunted in packs and used the ball brilliantly to open a gap at the break they never looked likely to relinquish.
It was very much a stop-start opening half, but Antrim began brightly with Ryan McCambridge sent clear only to be fouled for the first of Neil McManus's six first half frees.
Killian Doyle responded with the first off his impressive tally from play and after McManus converted his second of the day, Doyle landed three frees in-a-row to move the Lake County into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after 10 minutes.
Keelan Molloy replied for Antrim after being well picked out by David Kearney, but Doyle hit his fifth of the afternoon before Cormac Boyle helped with the scoring burden for the visitors with a shot that appeared to have maybe just gone wide, but the score stood.
McManus hit back with another free before Paddy Burke lashed over an inspirational score from midfield, but the pattern of the game was beginning to emerge with Westmeath shutting down space around the middle and their better use of the ball saw them begin to take charge with six of the next eight scores thanks to Doyle (three), Derek McNicholas (two) and Robbie Greville.
McManus frees were keeping Antrim in touch, but Westmeath were much better in attack as Doyle and Paul Greville added points from play and while Nigel Elliott scampered clear to hit Antrim's first from play in 27 minutes during stoppage time, a Doyle 65 on the stroke of half-time helped Westmeath into a 0-15 to 0-9 interval advantage.
Antrim appeared much more fired up after the break and McManus landed a free from half-way after Nicky McKeague had been fouled, but Westmeath always had an answer with Joey Boyle replying immediately.
James McNaughton and McManus carried the fight for Antrim in the second period, contributing the hosts' next eight points between them, but their side couldn't get any closer than six adrift as Westmeanth constantly hit back with their spread of scores much greater as Cormac Boyle, Robbie Greville, Alllan Devine and substitute Ciaran Doyle helped ease the scoring burden on Killian Doyle.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts on 58 minutes when Matthew Donnelly was flashed a second yellow card when trailing down Greville, while they also lost David Kearney to a second yellow late on.
However, this game appeared long since decided before as Westmeath's insatiable hunger and clever hurling earned them two vital points in their march to the final.
Westmeath scorers: Killian Doyle 0-17 (9 frees, 2 65s), Robbie Greville 0-3, Cormac Boyle 0-2, Ciaran Doyle 0-2, Derek McNicholas 0-1, Allan Devine 0-1, Joey Boyle 0-1, Liam Varley 0-1, Darragh Clinton 0-1
Antrim scorers: Neil McManus 0-13 (12 frees, 1 65), James McNaughton 0-3, Keelan Molloy 0-1, Paddy Burke 0-1, Nigel Elliott 0-1, Eoin O'Neill 0-1, Nicky McKeague 0-1 (65)
WESTMEATH: Conor Lynch; Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle, Gary Greville; Liam Varley, Aonghus Clarke, Paul Greville; Shane Clavin, John Gilligan; Cormac Boyle, Killian Doyle, Joey Boyle; Robbie Greville, Derek McNicholas, Allan Devine. Subs: Ciaran Doyle for Derek McNicholas (47), Darragh Clinton for Allan Devine (68), Shane McGovern for Cormac Boyle (70), Conor Shaw for Joey Boyle (70+5)
ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, John Dillon, Stephen Rooney; Matthew Donnelly, Paddy Burke, Joe Maskey; David Kearney, Nicky McKeague; Neil McManus, Ryan McCambridge, Keelan Molloy; Ciaran Clarke, Nigel Elliott, James McNaughton. Subs: Eoghan Campbell for Phelim Duffin (28), Conor Boyd for Joe Maskey (47), Dan McCloskey for Ryan McCambridge (51), Eoin O'Neill for Nigel Elliott (58), James O'Connell for Ciaran Clarke (68).
REFEREE: Paul O’Dwyer (Carlow)