Westmeath claimed a 13 point victory over Offaly in their first game of the 2019 Joe McDonagh Cup, with the Lake County producing a vintage performance to defeat their neighbours.
Westmeath were excellent from start to finish, in complete contrast to their local rivals, who were poor on the day.
Offaly lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup in 1998, but those days are well and truly in the past, as the Faithful are in relegation trouble and face two massive games against Antrim and Kerry, as defeats could see them dropping down to the Christy Ring Cup for next season.
Killian Doyle’s display was simply magnificent, as the Raharney star scored 1-12 over the duration of the game, 1-06 of which was from play.
Westmeath’s season has been flawless so far, as they have lifted the Kehoe Cup and the Division 2 league trophy and they will be serious contenders for this competition if they can replicate this performance.
Joe Bergin opened the scoring for Offaly with a "65" in the third minute, although this was as good as it got for the visitors, as Westmeath took control of proceedings from this point onwards and the Faithful would not hold the lead again throughout the match.
Killian Doyle responded for Westmeath with three successive scores and the same player found the net for the games opening goal in the 12th minute, after an excellent pass from his twin brother Ciaran.
Mark Egan’s 12th minute effort left three between the sides, but Westmeath registered the next seven points to give themselves a ten point and essentially kill off the game as a contest.
The hosts held a 1-13 to 0-5 lead at the interval, with Killian Doyle scoring 1-10 in the opening half and the Lake County were outstanding for large periods of the half.
Offaly needed a quick start to the second start and it arrived, as the Faithful scored the first four points of the second half, although Westmeath’s 45th minute goal gave Joe Quaid’s charges a ten point cushion.
Joey Boyle intercepted a pass from Ben Conneely and the Raharney star made no mistake with the finish, finding the top corner of the net.
Killian Doyle added a free shortly after the goal to restore his sides half time advantage and Offaly really had a mountain to climb at this juncture.
Westmeath’s 52nd minute goal was simply magnificent, as a superb Niall Mitchell pass made its way to Killian Doyle who produced excellent vision to pick out Derek McNicholas, who finished to the back of the net, in what was a fantastic team move.
Offaly were reduced to 14 men in stoppage time, after Niall Houlihan was shown a straight red card after an altercation with Niall Mitchell.
Westmeath saw out the game superbly to pick up a richly deserved victory, in what was a flawless team performance from Joe Quaid’s charges who face Kerry next Saturday in TEG Cusack Park.
Westmeath: Conor Lynch; Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle, Gary Greville; Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke (0-1), Paul Greville; Shane Clavin, Cormac Boyle; Joey Boyle (1-1), Killian Doyle (1-12, 0-6f), Robbie Greville; Niall Mitchell, Derek McNicholas (1-3, 0-1f), Ciaran Doyle.
Subs: Allan Devine for C Boyle (h-t), Darragh Clinton (0-1) for C Doyle (55), Conor Shaw for Craig (60), Darragh Reilly for K Doyle (65), Shane Power for R Greville (67).
Offaly: Eoghan Cahill; David O'Toole-Greene, Dermot Shortt, Ben Conneely; Colm Gath, Pat Camon, Niall Houlihan; Kevin Dunne (0-1), Mark Egan (0-1); Sean Dolan, Shane Dooley (0-1, 0-1f), Colin Egan; Conor Mahon, Joe Bergin (0-9, 0-6f, 0-1 "65"), Oisin Kelly.
Subs: Cillian Kiely (0-1) for Dolan (26), Damien Egan for Gath (35), Shane Kinsella (0-1) for Mahon (h-t), Conor Langton for Bergin (B/S, 43), Joe Bergin for Langton (B/S reversal, 44), Tom Spain for Camon (52), Kevin Connolly for Dooley (55).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)