Having gleaned a vital away victory over London, Michael Ryan’s Westmeath will be hoping to maintain their encouraging start to the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A campaign when hosting Derry at Cusack Park on Sunday afternoon (February 21 ).
Last weekend’s convincing success over the Exiles in Ruislip proved to be a satisfactory afternoon for Ryan, who was delighted to have the majority of his panel available for the first time in 2016. London were gritty and honest throughout the match, but Westmeath were ready for a battle emerging comfortable 2-16 to 0-13 winners.
Goals from Cormac Boyle and Robbie Greville carried significant importance for Westmeath, who endured a testing trip to London. Despite the demanding schedule, leaving Mullingar at 6am on the morning of the game, Westmeath were still well tuned-in for this match. Initially, Westmeath encountered some bother converting chances, as two early Kevin O’Loughlin points provided London with confidence.
A Darragh Egerton point was quickly followed by a fortuitous Boyle goal in the 12th minute. Boyle’s long delivery eventually ended up crossing the London line and Westmeath continued to show flashes of their ability. Boyle and Brendan Murtagh were prominent for the visitors, who departed at the break armed with a sizeable 1-11 to 0-6 advantage.
Two minutes after the restart Greville smashed home a second Westmeath goal when reacting smartly after a Murtagh ‘65 struck the post. Kevin O’Loughlin’s sharp free-taking assisted London, but Westmeath were never seriously troubled. Though the impressive Murtagh had a penalty saved, Westmeath continued to dominate, but the Midlanders know that Derry will provide a stern challenge.
Derry put in a spirited display when losing to Antrim at Owenbeg; the Oak Leafers were ahead by 1-8 to 0-6 at the interval. Gareth O’Kane bagged an opportunistic goal for Derry, but Antrim responded after the restart with a major courtesy of Donal Nugent. Ruairi Convery nicked a late consolation goal for Derry, who were defeated by 1-21 to 2-12, but they must be treated with the utmost respect. Carlow outfoxed Kildare in another lively encounter so the race for promotion will be hotly contested for the next couple of months.