Category: Archive

Fast start carries Westmeath despite sluggish second half

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Frank Brady

This game never materialized into the type of contest that many pundits predicted. Westmeath started swiftly Sunday at Gaelic Park with the prolific P.J. Ward getting them first on the board. Cavan’s Paddy Smith answered with his first point. Then Ward tagged on two more before he and Eugene O’Hagen got yellow cards for displaying some unnecessary attention to teach other.

The exchanges in the opening quarter were relatively well balanced as Cavan’s corner forward John Fegan scored a beautiful point to leave it at 3 to 2. P.J. Ward increased his tally with another point and then the demolition began with the two-man crew of P.J. and Shane Ward. The latter bore down the left wing and then cleverly flicked the ball across to his namesake who scrambled it to the net. The Down County player quickly added another point to extend their lead to 1-5 to 0-2. However, Cavan rallied with danger man Fagen adding two and their surge was capped by a great left-footed effort from Declan Martin away out near the sideline.

Cavan were right back in contention with just a goal between the sides until Gareth Bailey picked out his fellow county man Shane Ward with a deft pass. Shane Ward again took off down the left side before cutting across the endline to smack the ball into the roof of the Cavan net. P.J. Ward slotted over another point before Murphy’s Law struck Cavan again. A short kickout on the stroke of halftime was picked up by the vigilant P.J. Ward and coolly tapped over the head of the keeper into an empty net. Cavan looked buried after the avalanche of goals as they trailed by 3-6 to 0-5 at the break.

The second half was radically different. Westmeath managed only four points after their scoring spree in the first half. Perhaps a sense of complacency allowed them to slacken off as the Cavan men picked up the pace, despite the steep uphill battle. Quick points from Paddy Sloan and Declan Martin were just as quickly cancelled out by two from Shane Ward. It looked as if the Ward show was beginning to gather momentum, but Francie Sheridan and Eugene O’Hagen were paying much closer attention to their opponents. P.J. Ward landed his only point of the second half and Westmeath were struggling as they just scored another point in the remaining 20 minutes.

Cavan became much more aggressive up front with some good runs and scores from Paddy Smith and Declan Martin. Further points from Sloan and Martin kept Cavan’s hopes alive. Then, in the 24th minute, Shane Ward ended the Westmeath scoring draught as he cleverly nipped in behind his marker to fire over a point. Cavan tagged on three further points, two from Smith and one from Fagan. However, despite their spirited rally, it wasn’t sufficient to wipe out the scoring splurge of Ward and Ward at the end of the first half.

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Westmeath got the job done and the embargo on sanctions got another day in the sun for the old warhorses McCabe and Kavanagh. It’s an ill wind that doesn’t favor somebody.

Westmeath: Owen Farrell, Pat Dalton, Kieran Walsh, David Hughes, Frank Kavanagh, Aidan Canning, Michael Jackson, Brian Murphy, Pauric Clancy, Enda Henry, Brian McCabe, Gareth Bailey, P.J. Ward (2-6), Shane Ward (1-4), Dave Fitzgerald. Sub: Barney Healey.

Cavan: James Carolan, Barney Brady, Eugene O’Hagen, Liam McGuire, James Smith, John Clarke, Francie Sheridan, Paul Galligan, Shane Russell, Declan Martin (0-5), Paddy Sloan (0-2), Paddy Smith (0-5), John Fegan (0-2), Ciaran Fern, Gary McDermott. Subs: Gene Reilly, Joe Cassidy, Jimmy McGir.

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