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Westmeath 3-15 Carlow 1-10

Updated: Sunday, 19 May 2013 22:07 | Comments

Kieran Martin scored two goals for Westmeath
Kieran Martin scored two goals for Westmeath

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Westmeath set up a Leinster SFC quarter-final date with Dublin after seeing off a lacklustre Carlow side by 3-15 to 1-10 in Mullingar.

A scrappy tenth-minute goal from Seán Gannon gave Carlow early hope, but two goals from Kieran Martin helped Westmeath take a 2-08 to 1-03 interval lead.

Despite the best efforts of Carlow talisman Brendan Murphy, Westmeath cut loose again with 1-03 without reply to secure the victory, their final goal coming from man-of-the-match James Dolan.

The first 10 minutes illustrated Westmeath's superiority as they dominated the battle for primary possession and cut through the visitors' defence with some exquisite running lines.

However, if the hosts' approach play proved why they will play football in Division 1 of the Allianz League next year, their finishing in that period was very much of a Division 4 calibre, with only veteran Dessie Dolan showing a good eye for the posts.

He kicked three of Westmeath's first four scores, but a lucky break for Carlow kept the tie competitive. Boss Anthony Rainbow elected to play Brendan Murphy at full-forward and while the big Rathvilly man got on a lot of ball in the early stages, he struggled to break the shackles imposed on him by Kieran Gavin.

However, in the 10th minute, he got a shot away from the left wing after breaking a tackle, only for the ball to drop under the crossbar. Westmeath goalkeeper Gary Connaughton fielded the delivery initially but Seán Gannon was on hand to punch the ball over the line.

Two John Heslin frees settled Westmeath's nerves a little, but when Darragh Foley got Carlow's first point after 25 minutes – following on from seven wides – the game was finely balanced at 0-06 to 1-01.

Just as the home crowd were beginning to show signs of nerves, Westmeath sharpshooter Kieran Martin essentially settled the game with two excellent goals, his first coming after 28 minutes.

David Duffy put Westmeath on the attack with a fine punch on a Carlow kick-out, sending the ball through to Dessie Dolan. The former All-Star delayed his hand pass perfectly before playing Martin in and the wing forward gave the move a worthy finish, planting a perfect shot into the bottom right hand corner.

After Murphy and Heslin exchanged points, Martin again got in to rattle the twine and again Westmeath took their score after capitalising on a poor Carlow kick-out.

Trevor O’Reilly attempted to go short with his restart and Callum McCormack was on hand to intercept and send Denis Glennon clean through with a hand pass.

Shane Mernagh attempted to bring down Glennon and prevent the goalscoring opportunity but the Tyrrellspass man got his pass away to Martin, who again produced an immaculate finish.

With no wind advantage and Rainbow unwilling to go to his bench, Carlow's task looked formidable at the break, but two wonderful scores from Murphy in spite of good pressure from Gavin got the underdogs off to a great start.

However, while Murphy's presence at full-forward was causing Westmeath some difficulty, his absence from the midfield sector allowed Westmeath to dominate possession and four scores from the 40th to the 50th minute doubled Westmeath's lead and extinguished any lingering Carlow hopes.

James Dolan's goal was by far the most impressive score and it was the least he deserved after a tireless display on the wing.

Heslin collected a breaking ball in midfield and won a free, which Ger Egan sent into Denis Glennon. Glennon played an exquisite blind hand pass into Dolan, who tucked his shot perfectly inside the bottom corner, just an inch or two inside the post.

The closing stages saw ten further scores evenly split between the two sides, but with both managers emptying the bench, future engagements were clearly foremost in the thoughts of Flanagan and Rainbow.

Flanagan's charges will travel to Croke Park in two weeks' time for a glamour battle with Jim Gavin's Dublin, while for Carlow, the more humble path of the All-Ireland qualifiers lies in wait.

WESTMEATH: G Connaughton; M McCallon, K Gavin, K Maguire (0-01); D Harte, P Sharry (0-01), J Gaffey; D Duffy, J Heslin (0-05, 0-05f); K Martin (2-00), C McCormack, J Dolan (1-01); G Egan (0-01), D Glennon (0-01), Dessie Dolan (0-05).

Subs used: D Corroon for Egan, C Curley for Dessie Dolan (both 54 mins), D Daly for Duffy (61), Damien Dolan for Harte, L Smyth for Martin (both 64).

CARLOW: T O'Reilly; C Lawler, S Mernagh, BJ Molloy; K Nolan, S Redmond, B Kavanagh; D Foley (0-02, 0-02f), J Murphy; Brian Murphy (0-02, 0-01f), P Reid, E Ruth (0-01); S Gannon (1-00), Brendan Murphy (0-05, 0-01 '45'), D Hayden.

Subs used: J Kennedy for Reid (55 mins), M Doyle for Molloy (59), A Kelly for J Murphy (66), T Bolger for Hayden (68), C Moran for Ruth (69).

Referee: Ciarán Branagan (Down) 

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