Conor McKenna reports from The Downs
WESTMEATH ADVANCED TO the semi-final of the O’Byrne Cup after a six-point victory over Kildare, with a strong second half display sealing victory for the Lake County.
Kildare played over half of the game with 14 players after Pascal Connell was sent off before half-time and it was always going to be a struggle for the visitors when facing a numerical disadvantage against a well-organised Westmeath outfit.
Kildare midfielder Fionn Dowling opened the scoring with a point in the first minute, which was cancelled out by a free from Ger Egan.
It was tit for tat in the opening stages, with both sides cancelling each other out and Westmeath opted to use James Dolan as a sweeper in order to contain the Kildare attack.
Neil Flynn was very impressive for Kildare, with the Maynooth clubman registering four points in the opening half.
David Slattery got the game’s opening goal with 19 minutes played after Dowling’s high ball was parried by Kevin Fagan. Slattery made no mistake with the finish from close range to give his side a two-point advantage.
Kildare were reduced to 14 players in the 29th minute after Connell was sent off when he picked up a second yellow card after an altercation with Sean Flanagan which gave Westmeath a man advantage heading into the second half.
Kildare led by 1-5 to 0-7 at the break but the Lake County had a dream start to the second-half when Joe Halligan’s effort made its way to the back of the net, with the aid of a deflection from Mark Dempsey, who got something on the ball but could not prevent the ball from finding the net.
Westmeath dominated the second half and held a five-point lead heading into the last 15 minutes of the game, with Ger Egan outstanding for Jack Cooney’s charges.
Westmeath held out for a deserved victory, as the hosts used their numerical advantage superbly, with Longford awaiting Westmeath in the semi-final.
Scorers for Westmeath: Ger Egan 0-6 (3f), Joe Halligan 1-0, Ronan O’Toole 0-3 (2f), David Lynch, Kieran Martin (1f), Sam Duncan and Noel O’Reilly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kildare: Neil Flynn 0-6 (2f, 1 45), David Slattery 1-0, Fionn Dowling 0-1.
1. Kevin Fagan (Tubberclair)
2. Boidu Sayeh (Rosemount)
3. Ronan Wallace (Multyfarnham)
4. Killian Daly (Mullingar Shamrocks)
7. David Lynch (St. Malachys)
5. James Dolan (Garrycastle)
17. Noel O’Reilly (Milltownpass)
8. Sean Flanagan (St. Loman’s Mullingar)
6. Noel Mulligan (Athlone)
13. Ronan O Toole (St. Lomans Mullingar)
11. Callum McCormack (Maryland)
10. Ger Egan (Tyrrellspass)
14. Kieran Martin (Maryland)
9. Sam Duncan (Milltownpass)
15. Joe Halligan (Milltown).
20. James Maxwell (Coralstown/Kinnegad) for Daly (52)
21. Ger Leech (Coralstown/Kinnegad) for Martin (59)
18. Sean Pettit (Rosemount) for Halligan (60)
23. Ned Cully (St. Mary’s Rochfortbridge) for Flanagan (69)
25. Joe Moran (The Downs) for Mulligan (71)
1. Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)
2. Mark Hyland (Athy)
3. Mark Barrett (Ballymore Eustace)
4. Mark Dempsey (Moorefield)
5. David Malone (Raheens)
6. Eoin Doyle (Naas)
7. James Murray (Moorefield)
8. Fionn Dowling (Suncroft)
9. Pascal Connell (Athy)
10. David Slattery (Confey)
11. Adam Tyrrell (Moorefield)
12. Conor Hartley (Sarsfields)
13. Neil Flynn (Maynooth)
14. Ben McCormack (Sarsfields)
15. Padraig Fogarty (St Laurences)
21. Kevin Feely (Athy) for Hartley (32),
22. Aaron Masterson (Moorefield) for Malone (h-t)
23. Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbride) for Fogarty (h-t)
24. Eoghan O’Flaherty (Carbury) for McCormack (45)
17. David Hyland (Athy) for M Hyland (49)
25. Paddy Brophy (Celbridge) for Slattery (49)
19. Cian O’Donoghue (Clane) for Dowling (56)
20. Jason Gibbons (Kilcock) for Murray (60)
26. Padraig Nash (Monasterevan) for Tyrrell (63)
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).
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