GAA: Allianz Hurling League Division 2A
By Gerry Buckley
Despite producing a far more committed and skilful display than was the case in their opening two games, Westmeath’s senior hurlers ultimately came up short against Kerry in reasonably pleasant conditions at Cusack Park last Sunday.
An unfortunate last-gasp slip by the hitherto-outstanding Derek McNicholas as he lined up a 72nd-minute free enabling Kerry to eke their third successive win in this year’s Allianz Hurling League Division 2A campaign.
Sport can be cruel and the Lough Lene Gaels man -deserved better luck with what would normally be a routine free for a hurler of his ability. Like his club colleague Tommy Doyle at the other end, McNicholas was one of the many players in maroon and white who raised their game significantly from the embarrassing loss to Derry a fortnight earlier at the same ground.
Brian Hanley’s charges had gone into the game on the back of two poor performances against London (a draw) and the aforementioned Derry fiasco (a heavy defeat), together with widely-documented talk of unrest in the camp. But they hurled with great spirit throughout and were desperately unlucky not to claim at least a share of the points.
The upshot of it all is that they face a tricky trip to Newbridge next Sunday in what is a must-win (or at least, must-not-lose) fixture from a Lake County perspective.
Man of the match
Shane Nolan (Kerry). The winners’ corner forward was accurate from placed balls and open play throughout.
Derek McNicholas deserved better with his last-gasp mishit to share the points.
Wides: Kerry 4 (1st half: 4); Westmeath 7 (3)
Frees: Kerry 14 (7); Westmeath 19 (9)
Yellow cards: Kerry 3 (B Murphy, M Boyle, D Butler); Westmeath 2 (T Doyle, P Reilly).
Scorers - Kerry: S Nolan 0-7 (3f, 1'65’), P Boyle 1-1, D Butler and P O’Connor 1-0 each, M Boyle 0-3, C Harty and D Dineen 0-1 each. Westmeath: D McNicholas 1-5 (0-2 '65’, 0-1f), N Conaty 1-3 (0-3 f), A Devine 0-2, D Gavin, A McGrath, C Curley, A Craig and R Greville 0-1 each.
Kerry: Tadhg Flynn; Bryan Murphy, Jason Casey, Dougie Fitzell; Sean Weir, Jason Leahy, Keith Carmody; Darragh O’Connell, Darren Dineen; Mikey Boyle, Daniel Collins, Colm Harty; Shane Nolan, Aidan Boyle, David Butler. Subs used: Tom Murnane for Casey (22), Padraig Boyle for A Boyle (h-t), Paudie O’Connor for Leahy (h-t), Kevin Orpen for Fitzell (55), Brendan Brosnan for Dineen (65).
Westmeath: Peter Collins; Gary Greville, Tommy Doyle, Paul Fennell; David Fennell, Aaron Craig, Philip Reilly; Ciaran Curley, Philip Gilsenan; Robbie Greville, Derek McNicholas, Davy Gavin; Noel Conaty, Alan McGrath, Alan Devine. Sub used: Tommy Gallagher for Gilsenan (59).
Referee: Tony Carroll (Offaly).