Westmeath blew Offaly away 2-22 to 1-11 in the Leinster hurling championship round-robin to take a step towards the Leinster Championship proper.
Eoin Price and Niall O’Brien scored 1-12 between them as the Lake County led 1-9 to 0-7 at the break, before cruising to victory after half-time. Price put the icing on the cake with his goal as the game went into injury time.
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Shane Dooley who was named among the substitutes started for Offaly and pointed from play inside four minutes before a Niall O’Brien free levelled matters. But the Tullamore talisman Dooley who strained a hamstring in a challenge game with the county footballers didn’t look his best and only registered 0-3 throughout.
After Sean Ryan sent Offaly into a 0-2 to 0-1 lead, they never saw the lead again as Westmeath dominated. First Liam Varley found Derek McNicholas inside with a brilliant hand pass before the latter fired past James Dempsey for the opening goal on 10 minutes. Eoin Price, Niall O’Brien and Alan Devine all rattled off points in the following three minutes as Westmeath inserted their dominance.
It was tit for tat with Offaly’s Shane Kinsella trading points with Darragh Egerton and then Paddy Murphy and Cormac Boyle exchanging scores to leave Offaly trailing by five with 26 minutes played. From there Westmeath upped the ante and two Niall O’Brien points and another from Varley gave them what looked like an unsurmountable cushion; 1-9 to 0-4 on the half-hour. But a brief fightback from Offaly saw two Dooley frees and a Cillian Kiely point see them only trail by five at the break.
But the reality was Offaly were down and five unanswered points within five minutes of the restart had Westmeath lead by 10 points. If it hadn’t been already, it became more and more like a training game. It was only a matter of how much Westmeath would score. Another series of points without reply made the game safe with 15 minutes remaining.
Just before Paddy Murphy had scored a goal for Offaly but it was far too little, too late for their side. In the closing stages Price added a goal to put icing on the cake for Westmeath. Now they look forward to a battle with Kerry next week with the victor destined for a spot in the Championship proper. It will provide a sterner test than what they saw here, but with the fire-power that they have, it is sure to be a cracking game in Austin Stack Park.
1 Paddy Maloney – 2 Shane Power, 3 Tommy Doyle, 4 Tommy Gallagher – 5 Aaron Craig, 6 Aonghus Clarke (c), 7 Gary Greville – 8 Cormac Boyle, 12 Robbie Greville – 10 Alan Devine, 15 Niall O’Brien, 9 Eoin Price – 13 Liam Varley, 11 Derek McNicholas, 19 Darragh Egerton.
1 James Dempsey – 2 Paddy Rigney, 3 Dermot Shortt, 4 Chris McDonald – 5 Ben Conneely, 6 Pat Camon, 7 Dermot Mooney – 8 Sean Ryan, 9 Shane Kinsella – 10 Kevin Connolly, 11 Colin Egan, 12 Joe Bergin – 13 James Mulrooney, 14 Cillian Kiely, 15 Paddy Murphy.
16 Oisin Mahon, 17 James Gorman, 18 Sean Cleary, 19 Jason Sampson, 20 Dan Kelleher, 21 Podge Guinan, 22 Stephen Connolly, 23 Gerry Spollen, 24 Shane Dooley, 25 David King, 26 Liam Langton.