By Mike Fitzpatrick
Following an early sending off for Hugh Murphy in this senior football Div. 1 game, the lads from the Kingdom were forced to play much of the game a man short. If that wasn’t bad enough, they then had their influential captain Paddy O’Connor dismissed late in the game along with Barney Healy of Westmeath, meaning that they will be without O’Connor’s services for their next foray into championship football.
Having lost out to their Ulster rivals Tyrone last week, Kerry were in no mood to extend this unfamiliar losing streak.
Westmeath however, have seemingly moved out of the doldrums. John Moore’s men in maroon have now beaten both top teams, having inflicted a shock defeat upon second-placed Tyrone last week, and in beating current champions Kerry in this game, they picked up their fourth and fifth championship points.
With two games still to play, Westmeath are still well on course for a place in the final four, and therefore eligible for the playoffs.
Kerry will not be hurting too much, however. With 10 points and one game left, they are certain of playoff contention. Though it’s fair to say that a little Kerry pride was dented during this 60 minutes,
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they were on top for much of the first period, with the ever impressive Bingo Driscoll racking up the scores.
Added to a couple from Mark Fitzgerald, the Kingdom lads seemed well in control of the game.
Although Westmeath fought back, with efforts from Greg Ramsbottom and Tommy Carton registering, it still looked to be a steep mountain to climb for Paddy Kearney’s boys. Leading at the interval, Kerry seemed in control, and the championship points seemed to be in their possession. Words of wisdom were obviously doled out to Westmeath at the break however, as Moore’s men went on the attack immediately.
Tommy Carton seized upon a defensive error deep inside the Kerry half to hammer the ball under the bar to reduce the deficit to two points. Following Murphy’s sending off, Westmeath took full advantage of having the extra player on the pitch, and managed to overtake their opponents, with Barney Healy and Kieran Ryan adding to Carton’s second half tally.
Westmeath were in front, and managed to hold off the champions. Kerry were struggling to string moves together but only managed a single point in the second half.
Carton scored another point to bring the difference to five, and in the last minutes, Kerry had O’Connor sent off to make their day even more miserable.
Although not a total disaster for Kerry, Kearney will certainly be seeking to dismiss this slump of form, with the playoffs fast approaching. And with a number of other teams striving to make it to the latter stages of the season, they will hope this bad spell has come to an end. Westmeath deserved their victory, and will certainly be optimistic of making the all important playoffs.
Sent Off: Hugh Murphy (Kerry), Paddy O’Connor (Kerry), Barney Healy (Westmeath).
Westmeath: Kevin Wilson, Peter Dalton, Kieran Walsh, David Bailie, Brendan Kearney, Tom Quinn, Tommy Moriarty, Kieran Doyle, James Kavanagh, Barney Healy (0-2), Kieran Ryan (0-1), Greg Ramsbottom (0-3), Tommy Carton (1-2), Brian McCabe, Ollie Gaughran (0-1). Sub: Neil McSherry (0-1)
Kerry: Finbarr Flood, Jake Rooney, Adrian Riney, Paul Dillon, Hugh Murphy, Paddy O’Connor, Peter Riney, Willie O’Donnell (0-1), Dave McSweeney, Mike Carmody, Mark Fitzgerald (0-2), Bingo Driscoll (0-5), Dave McCarthy, Johnny Driscoll, Paul McCarthy.