A great display by Shane Conway helped Kerry to a surprise win over Westmeath in what was both teams’ second game of the Joe McDonagh Cup in Mullingar this afternoon.
The first half was a tense affair, as expected, with maor fóirne Brian Culbert being banished to the stand by referee Patrick Murphy for reportedly waving a flag in front of Westmeath's Derek McNicholas while he was trying to take a sideline cut.
The respective centre-half forwards, Shane Conway (Kerry) and Killian Doyle (Westmeath) were doing the bulk of the scoring. The home team had the aid of a slight wind in the opening half and they led by 0-5 to 0-2 after 14 minutes, four of the Lake County’s haul from Doyle who had hit 1-12 the previous week against Offaly.
A minute later, Conor Lynch saved very bravely when Padraig Boyle seemed certain to find the net. Five unanswered points for the Kingdom – including three from Conway – put them 0-7 to 0-5 ahead by the 23rd minute as the game became progressively more niggly.
Doyle strangely opted to go for a goal from a close-range free in the 33rd minute, and the sides were locked at 0-8 apiece at the interval.
Westmeath got off to a dream start in the second half with half-time sub Allan Devine whipping the ball to the net from close range after John B O’Halloran had kept out Killian Doyle’s initial goal-bound shot. However, a less wasteful Kerry continued to plug away – their first wide came in the 46th minute – and they were three points to the good (0-17 to 1-11) with 61 minutes on the clock.
A minute later, a goal under pressure by Doyle levelled the scoring but Kerry responded instantly when Colum Harty found the net. Kerry’s Tomás O’Connor was dismissed on a second yellow card with six minutes of normal time remaining. Four minutes of added-time were signalled and the sides were level with two of these remaining.
Appropriately, Conway pounced for the winning scores – a free and a great score from play with the last puck of the match
Westmeath: C Lynch; D Egerton, T Doyle, G Greville; C Shaw, A Clarke, P Greville; C Boyle, S Clavin (0-01); R Greville (0-01), K Doyle (1-11, 0-8f), J Boyle; N Mitchell, D McNicholas, C Doyle.
Subs: D Clinton (0-02) for Mitchell (inj., 23), A Devine (1-00) for C Doyle (h-t), E Price (0-01) for McNicholas (h-t), S Power for Shaw (58), J Gilligan for J Boyle (70 + 4).
Kerry: JB O’Halloran; J O’Connor (0-01), B Murphy, S Weir; E Murphy, P Kelly (0-01), D Collins; D Goggin, T O’Connor; M O’Leary (0-01), S Conway (0-13, 0-7f, 0-2 ‘65’), J Goulding; P Boyle (0-01), M Boyle, C Harty (1-01).
Subs: J Conway (0-03) for Kelly (40), M Slattery for Goggin (61).
Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).