Westmeath minors book Leinster semi-final berth

Westmeath 2-13   Wicklow 0-10

Dessie Dolan heads an impressive full forward line for Sunday’s championship opener against Carlow. Photo: johnobrienimages.com

Dessie Dolan heads an impressive full forward line for Sunday’s championship opener against Carlow. Photo: johnobrienimages.com

Tom Carr’s Westmeath minors kicked an impressive 2-13 as they ran out comfortable nine-point winners over a limited Wicklow side in a windy Cusack Park last Saturday. Despite playing against the considerable wind in the opening half it was the home side that made the brighter start and had 2-3 on the board after just 10 minutes.

The visitors then hit a purple patch and had the deficit down to just three points as half time approached but further points from Corbally and Cassidy gave the home side some extra breathing space at the short whistle. With wind advantage to come they were in a good position to set up a Leinster semi-final showdown with Meath on July 6.

A good start to the second half saw Carr’s side extend their lead through Giles and Corbally. Any hopes of the visitors causing an upset evaporated when wing back Niall Donnelly received his second yellow card midway through the half.

Westmeath continued to dominate and in the end a nine-point win was a fair reflection of their superiority. This second win will further boost confidence within the squad even though they will be well aware that Wicklow offered little resistance.

Keeping a clean sheet is always an indication of a good defensive performance. C/F/C/W’s Israel Ilunga was a commanding presence at fullback while Mattie Darling did well when switched onto Wicklow’s ‘go to’ man Mickey O’Connor.

The half-back line of Giles, Caffrey, and Sayeh was solid and gave decent supply to the forward unit. Rosemount’s Theo Watts again underlined his growing reputation with a fine midfield display while Sam Omukoro also had a productive hour around the middle.

Up front John Corbally did most of the damage finishing with an impressive 2-5 to his name while Liam Cassidy chipped in with three points. On the face of it 2-13 is a good score to clock up especially in difficult footballing conditions (and without the injured Luke Loughlin ), but there were opportunities to hit an even higher tally. Aside from the two goals they did only manage five points from play over the hour which is something of a concern.

While the Leaving Cert takes priority for the coming weeks, last year’s beaten all-Ireland finalists Meath will represent a significant step up in class when the sides meet in Navan on July 6. The Royals will be warm favourites to advance to the decider but there is no doubt that there is a great opportunity there for Carr’s side to reach a Leinster final. Kildare look like the team to beat but anything is possible at minor level.


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