By Jack Flynn
Westmeath 2-8, Roscommon 1-7
Westmeath used strong defensive play and two goals from Dave Fitzgerald to pull out a 2-8 to 1-7 victory over Roscommon in the second Senior Football Div. I match at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
“Westmeath are always a strong team, especially on defense, so it’s always a matter of whether we can do it up front,” Fitzgerald said. “I think we played OK.”
The match was a back-and-forth affair for the entire 60 minutes, as both Westmeath and Roscommon struggled to take control of the game. Both sides had problems asserting themselves defensively and offensively, making the match a mostly uninspiring affair.
Mike Healy drew first blood for Westmeath, scoring a point to give his side the early lead. Donal McCarthy followed with a point of his own, before Eoghan McGrath scored for Roscommon to cut the lead to 0-2 to 0-1 in favor of Westmeath.
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Fitzgerald struck for his first goal midway through the first half, taking a good ball from McCarthy and slamming it home to give Westmeath a 1-3 to 0-2 advantage.
Play began to stagnate after that goal, as both Westmeath and Roscommon could not find any rhythm. Westmeath’s John Markey, a corner back by trade, took off on an unexpected long run through the Roscommon defense before mishitting a pass for Fitzgerald, all in an apparent attempt to liven up what was quickly becoming a boring match.
Roscommon’s Aiden Smyth finally provided a badly needed dose of flair late in the first half by scoring a stunningly brilliant goal with seconds left on the clock.
Barry Gogarty, who was perhaps Roscommon’s best player up to that point, kicked a ball that seemed destined to become his third point on the afternoon, but the goalpost had other ideas. As the ball struck the post and fell back to the earth, Smyth one-timed his shot past Westmeath’s Frank Molloy and into the net.
Had Smyth taken an extra second and tried to pick the ball up off the ground, Molloy may have had enough time to make the save. As it was, the score was now 1-4 to 1-3 for Westmeath and Roscommon was right back in the match.
Play began flip-flopping again in the second half, and with the score 1-6 to 1-4 Westmeath, Fitzgerald put the game away for his side.
Fitzgerald took a pass from a teammate, blew right past a Roscommon defender, faked keeper Robert Smyth to the ground and deposited the ball into an open net to give Westmeath a 2-6 to 1-4 lead.
Gogarty and Fitzgerald took turns scoring points for their respective teams to account for the match’s final tally. But for each point they scored, Westmeath and Roscommon teammates missed what should have been easy points for their side.
Westmeath scorers: Fitzgerald 2-3, McCarthy and McCabe 0-2, Healy 0-1.
Roscommon: Smyth 1-0; Gogarty 0-6, McGrath 0-1.