Westmeath’s John Heslin in action against Gerard Smith and Conor Brady of Cavan during the Tailteann Cup final last July. PHOTO: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Superb Westmeath enjoy facile victory

Westmeath 4-27, Antrim 0-8

With John Heslin in sensational form, Westmeath kept in contention for promotion to Division 2 with a surprisingly facile win against a very disappointing Antrim side in TEG Cusack Park this afternoon.

A 31-point winning margin did not flatter the Lake County outfit, who came into the game with two wins and two narrow defeats from their first four games. Division 3 looks like it will go right down to the wire to decide which teams will be promoted, with Cavan looking nailed down for one of the top two slots.

Westmeath totally dominated the first half despite Antrim having the aid of a slight wind. Heslin scored the first five scores of the game by the 16th minute, his 1-4 consisting of three converted frees and 1-1 from play, the goal finished under pressure from close range in the 12th minute after good work by Ronan O’Toole and Senan Baker.

The home team led by 1-6 to 0-0 when Antrim pounced for their opening two points courtesy of Pat Shivers and Odhran Eastwood. Two more Heslin frees ensued at the other end before Sam Duncan teed up Baker, who scored a great solo goal in the 28th minute.

Conor Stewart kicked the Glensmen’s third point in the 28th minute, but with Luke Loughlin in fine form and Heslin bringing his first half tally to 1-9, Westmeath led by 2-12 to 0-3 at the interval.

Dessie Dolan’s charges scored their third goal just 15 seconds after the resumption of play, Heslin picking out David Lynch, who found the net in style. The one-way traffic continued throughout the second half with O’Toole dictating play in the winners’ forward line, scoring four points in the process.

Conversely, Andy McEntee’s men failed to raise a gallop at any stage and they never threatened to get the goal which might give them a lift.

Westmeath’s fourth goal came in the 68th minute when O’Toole played in his St Loman’s, Mullingar colleague Sam McCartan and he finished to the net with aplomb.

Another St Loman’s man, Shane Dempsey, came off the bench to score three good late points, while his clubmate Heslin went on to score a whopping 1-12 in what was effectively a turkey shoot in a division that has produced many tight contests.

Scorers -

Westmeath: J Heslin 1-12 (0-8f), S McCartan 1-2, R O'Toole 0-4, D Lynch, S Baker 1-0 each, S Dempsey 0-3, L Loughlin, T Molloy 0-2 each, J Dolan, S Duncan 0-1 each.

Antrim: P Shivers 0-4 (2f), O Eastwood 0-2 (1f), C Stewart, R McCann 0-1 each.

Westmeath: Jason Daly; Danny Scahill, Kevin Maguire, Nigel Harte; James Dolan, Ronan Wallace, Sam McCartan; Sam Duncan, Ray Connellan; Senan Baker, Ronan O’Toole, Conor McCormack; Luke Loughlin, John Heslin, David Lynch. Subs used: Tom Molloy for Connellan (43), Anthony McGivney for Scahill (55), Lorcan Dolan for Baker (56), David Giles for Harte (57), Shane Dempsey for McCormack (60).

Antrim: Michael Byrne; Eoghan McCabe, Oisín Lenehan, James McAuley; Peter Healy, Joseph Finnegan, Sean O’Neill; Kevin Small, Conor Stewart; Patrick Finnegan, Ruairí A McCann, Colm McLarnon; Pat Shivers, Ruairí McCann, Odhran Eastwood. Subs used: Seamus McGarry for P Finnegan (h-t), Dominic McEnhill for R A McCann (h-t), Pádraig Mervyn for Healy (h-t), Patrick McCormick for O’Neill (48), Jack Dowling for Stewart (58).

Ref: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).