Garrycastle's Robbie Shine under pressure from Castledaly s Gordon Duffy and John Warburton, Photo Ann Hennessy
All-Ireland club finalists Garrycastle notched their first win of the 2012 Westmeath senior football championship in the second leg of last Sunday's double-header in Cusack Park with a hard-fought victory over their neighbours and great rivals in recent years, Castledaly.
For long periods it looked like Derek Heavin's men would pull off a surprise win, but ultimately the Flanagan Cup holders had a little in hand and a crucial goal from James Dolan edged them over the line in what was an entertaining contest for the small crowd on a pleasant summer's evening.
Alan Stone was wide via the upright for Castledaly after a mere ten seconds, and Garrycastle, now under the guidance of Galway's Paul Clancy as they attempt to pull off a Westmeath four-in-a-row, went ahead in the third minute courtesy of a neat point from Seanie O'Donoghue, despite a suspicion of a thrown pass from Des Dolan. However, the men in gold and green soon pounced for a well-taken goal from the boot of minor star Lorcan Dolan, who availed of fine approach work by Paul Kelly.
Des Dolan (a classy score) and Brendan Kelly (a tidy finish) then traded scores, but the champions quickly upped the gears and tacked on an unanswered 1-4 between the 15th and 23rd minutes.
A brace of points apiece from Conor Cosgrove (two left-footed frees) and Des Dolan (both from play) were followed by a clinical goal from Paddy Mulvihill, after James Duignan and Ciaran O'Neill had caught the eye in a well-constructed move.
The latter player opened his account in the 28th minute, either side of which Brendan Kelly kicked two fine points from open play for the losers. In added-time, converted frees from Brendan Kelly and Alan Stone reduced the deficit at the interval to two points, Garrycastle leading the contest by 1-7 to 1-5.
Castledaly started the second moiety in fine style and they went from two points down to two points up by the 35th minute, courtesy of two Alan Stone frees and terrific points from play by Gordon Duffy and Lorcan Dolan (an exquisite finish with the outside of his left boot).
Paddy Mulvihill (a lovely score from 35 metres) and Alan Stone (a great finish under pressure) exchanged points before Castledaly's determination was exemplified by a wonderful block by Ciaran Henson on Conor Cosgrove at the expense of an unconverted '45'. However, three points without reply from Garrycastle between the 47th and 50th minutes edged them ahead, the scores coming from Des Dolan (a great free from his hands on the 45-metre line), Ciaran O'Neill and James Duignan (both from play).
With eight minutes of normal time remaining, Paul Kelly levelled the match, but the men in green and red pounced for a vital 1-2 in the ensuing four minutes, classy points from Des Dolan and Adam Kennedy preceding a bundled goal from James Dolan who had been set up by Paddy Mulvihill.
That rounded off the winners' scoring but Castledaly had still time to reduce the gap to just a goal with points from Lorcan Dolan and Alan Stone (a free), sandwiched between which full back Tommy Warburton unsuccessfully tried to blast a goal through a massed Garrycastle defence. A very brief skirmish in the dying moments was defused when a Castledaly player was lucky to avoid seeing red having being booked early on.
Garrycastle: D Dolan 0-5 (1f), P Mulvihill 1-1, J Dolan 1-0, C Cosgrove (2f) and C O'Neill 0-2 each, A Kennedy, S O'Donoghue and J Duignan 0-1 each.
Castledaly: L Dolan 1-2, A Stone 0-5 (4f), B Kelly 0-4 (1f), G Duffy and P Kelly 0-1 each.
Garrycastle: Sean Brennan; Mark McCallon, Enda Mulvihill, Gary McCallon; Doron Harte, Adam Kennedy, James Dolan; Seanie O'Donoghue, Ciaran O'Neill; Neil Rattigan, Paddy Mulvihill, James Duignan; Conor Cosgrove, Robbie Shine, Des Dolan. Subs used: Alan Fox for Rattigan (36), Aidan Browne for Shine (45).
Castledaly: Justin Coughlan; Michael Gavin, Tommy Warburton, Ciaran Henson; John Warburton, Adrian Kelly, Liam Fitzpatrick; Gordon Duffy, Niall Duffy; Alan Stone, Patrick Holloway, Alan Fitzgerald; Brendan Kelly, Lorcan Dolan, Paul Kelly. Subs used: Enda Kelly for Fitzgerald (29), M.J. McLoughlin for Gavin (55).
Referee: Sean Carroll (The Downs).