Conor Regan (Cullion) puts pressure on David O'Reilly (Castletown Geoghegan).

Clarke goal decisive as Castletown win poor contest

Slevin’s Coaches Senior Hurling ‘A’ Championship: Castletown-Geoghegan 2-15, Cullion 1-9

Gerry Buckley reports

An eminently forgettable third-round robin tie in the Westmeath senior hurling championship at a sun-drenched TEG Cusack Park on Wednesday evening saw a profligate Castletown-Geoghegan stay in contention to reach the knockout stages with a nine-point win over relegation-threatened Cullion.

Despite 11 players on Alan Mangan’s side making the scoresheet, the manager is very unlikely to be happy with the lethargic display of his understrength troops. For their part, a misfiring Cullion look like they are heading for an immediate return to the senior ‘B’ ranks unless they improve dramatically in their two remaining outings against Clonkill and Raharney.

In the opening quarter, both sides scored just a brace of points apiece therein – Niall O’Brien converting two frees for the winners, and Conor Regan (open play) and Jack Gillen (a free) on target for the men in the maroon jerseys. Given the heat, the players were permitted a water break with 0-2 each on the scoreboard.

In truth, the second quarter was only marginally better. The men in black and amber added 1-4 to their tally. The points came courtesy of Conor Lynch, goalkeeper Kieran Glennon (a long-range free), Peter Clarke and Eoin Quinn (both producing rare moments of quality), with Plunkett Maxwell’s bundled goal in the 26th minute in keeping with the overall sloppy standard on view.

Gillen doubled his tally from frees in the 19th minute. Castletown-Geoghegan led by 1-6 to 0-3 at the interval.

With O’Brien injured, Lynch took over free-taking duties and he slotted over two points in the 33rd and 34th minutes. A mini-revival by Pat Cleary’s troops yielded three rapid-fire and unanswered points from the sticks of Conor Regan, Gillen (a free), and Kevin Regan.

Clarke had a ‘goal’ disallowed in the 38th minute for throwing the sliotar into the Cullion net after shipping some robust challenges when heading goalward. An angled point from David O’Reilly left his side ahead by 1-9 to 0-6 at the second water break.

Brandon Carey pointed neatly shortly after his introduction before Conor Kane came forward from defence to open his account. Kevin Regan (a great score) and Neal Kirby then traded points.

Gillen pointed from point-blank range at the end of a Conor Regan free, but any element of doubt about the outcome evaporated in the 54th minute when O’Reilly did very well to tee up Clarke who found the net with aplomb.

The hard-working Liam Varley became the 11th Castletown man to register a score in the 57th minute. Lynch (a free) and Gillen (open play) swapped points before Kane doubled his tally approaching the hour mark.

In the last action of the contest, Gillen took advantage of slack defending by last year’s Westmeath Examiner Cup finalists to score a consolation goal.

Scorers - Castletown-Geoghegan: C Lynch 0-4 (3f), P Clarke 1-1, P Maxwell 1-0, C Kane and N O’Brien (2f) 0-2 each, N Kirby, K Glennon (f), D O’Reilly, E Quinn, L Varley and B Carey 0-1 each. Cullion: J Gillen 1-5 (0-3f), C Regan and K Regan 0-2 each.

Castletown-Geoghegan: Kieran Glennon; Conor Kane, Naoise McKenna, Aaron Glennon; Eoin Quinn, Liam Varley, Mick Heeney; Plunkett Maxwell, David Lynch; Morgan Gavigan, Conor Lynch, Peter Clarke; David O’Reilly, Niall O’Brien, Jack Gallagher. Subs used: Neal Kirby for O’Brien (inj., 16), Conor Murphy for Gavigan (38), Brandon Carey for Gallagher (46).

Cullion: Damien Golden; Shane O’Connor, Robbie Gillen, Pierce Shaw; Conor Shaw, Conor Regan, Conor Gilhooley; Kevin Regan, Pierce Corroon; James Kelly, Shane Broughan, Andrew Connaughton; Jack Gillen, Brian O’Reilly, Jack Galvin. Subs used: Brian Stones for Connaughton (h-t), James Clarke for O’Connor (h-t), Eoin Fox for O’Reilly (34), Tadhg Desmond for Gilhooley (inj., 41), Sean Regan for Kelly (56).

Ref: Matt Shaw (Clonkill).

Footnote: A minute's silence was observed before the game in support of the Clarke and Golden families from Cullion following their recent bereavements.