Westmeath hurlers maintain fine start with victory over Derry

Westmeath’s satisfying Allianz Hurling League Division 2A start continued on Sunday as Michael Ryan’s team defeated Derry by 2-11 to 0-13.

The Midlanders delivered a fine second period display to claim another victory following the encouraging success over London at the Emerald GAA Grounds, Ruislip.

Goals after half-time from Alan Devine and Derek McNicholas proved to be the important blows for Westmeath, who eventually shrugged off Derry’s spirited resistance. Despite being backed by a strong breeze, Westmeath only led by 0-6 to 0-2 at the interval as the gritty Derry outfit frustrated the home team. Devine pounced for an opportunistic goal, but Derry showed resilience by scoring the next five points, trimming the deficit to one.

Late on, Devine turned provider for McNicholas, who struck a fine goal for Westmeath. The Midlanders held on to claim the full complement of spoils which pleased Ryan. “I was reasonably confident at half-time that the game would open up for us, but we have a lot of things that we need to address,” was Ryan’s verdict. “First of all, our battling qualities came to the fore and we got two good goals. At the end we had a few opportunities to kill the game, but we didn’t.

“We were guilty of taking an extra pass, but we have four points on the board and we are happy to be on top of the division. We are happy enough, but we have loads of work to do. Overall our defence was quite good, we used the ball well and worked it up the field. In the National League you have got to show an improvement every day. Aspects of our game were better than they were in London, but we need to up it again for the next day.”

Westmeath face a critical encounter with Antrim in Mullingar on March 6. “If we were to win that game it would certainly put us in the driving seat in this division with Carlow already beaten,” Ryan admitted. “Antrim will be difficult opponents. They will be smarting from what happened last year.”

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