Westmeath, under new manager Michael Ryan, made a hugely encouraging start to their Allianz Hurling League Division 2A campaign when they defeated London at Cusack Park last Sunday.
Though London opened brightly, Westmeath, inspired by the excellent Eoin Price, responded to seize control posting a convincing win.
Having competed impressively in the Walsh Cup, Westmeath put in a similarly industrious performance recovering from an early Brendan Murtagh penalty miss to run out comfortable victors. Luke Hands grabbed a seventh-minute goal for London, who were lively initially, but Westmeath settled with Price starring at midfield.
Robbie Greville was another influential figure for Westmeath scoring a 25th-minute goal which dented London’s confidence. Price, Derek McNicholas, and Murtagh all found the range as Westmeath went in at the break leading 1-12 to 1-2.
Three minutes after the break Greville added another Westmeath goal as London were now under severe pressure. Eoin Kelly was sharp from frees for Fergus McMahon’s visitors, but Westmeath were never troubled in the closing stages.
With Kilburn Gaels in All-Ireland Intermediate club final action at Croke Park against O’Donovan Rossa from Antrim, London were forced to field without several key players. It meant they were restricted for this opener and Westmeath kept them scoreless for a critical 35-minute spell during the contest. That type of Westmeath energy and enthusiasm was significant as Ryan’s charges are keen to make an impact in the spring.
Westmeath: P Collins; S Power, A Craig, G Grevile; A McGrath, T Doyle, L Varley; J Clarke, E Price (0-7 ); D McNicholas (0-1 ), R Greville (2-1 ), N O'Brien (0-2 ); D Clinton (0-2 ), B Murtagh (0-7, 3fs, 165 ), A Devine. Subs: J Boyle for McNicholas (24 mins ), C Boyle for Devine (45 mins ), E Corrigan for Clarke (52 mins ), M Daly for McGrath (57 mins ).
London: J Barrett; N Rogers, M Ryan, E Collins; P Murphy, E Cooney, M Lynch (0-1 ); C Keogh, D Coffey; E Chawke, E Kelly (0-6, 4fs ), P Phelan; L Hands, B Gaffney, M Ivors (1-1 ). Subs: K Dowling for Chawke (36 mins ), D Connelly for Keogh (55 mins ), K Cohen for Phelan (57 mins ), K Reid for Murray (60 mins ), M Holohan for Coffey (60 mins ).
Referee: David Hughes (Carlow )