Category: Archive

N.Y. GAA Sligo top Westmeath to bolster playoff chances

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mike Fitzpatrick

Sligo 2-10, Westmeath 2-7

Two sides at the wrong end of Division One football’s league table came face to face in a clash Sunday at Gaelic Park that at times could easily have swung either way. Although not completely out of contention before a ball was kicked on Sunday, a win was absolutely vital to the two teams.

It’s practically accepted among those in attendance at the park that Kerry will qualify, having won all four of their games so far. Tyrone have now won three out of three, and Donegal have picked up six out of eight points in their campaign to date. If those three sides should keep up their present form, the remaining playoff positions will be contested among Stamford, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, or the two sides in combat here, Sligo and Westmeath. A tough group to get out of, and if either of these dark horses were to climb up from the trenches and onto the battlefield of the playoffs, they simply had to win here. Alas, there can only be one winner, and it was not to be Westmeath’s day, as a triumphant Sligo battled hard for their victory. So what of the game?

Barney Healy opened the scoring for Westmeath, and but for a number of wides in the first period, Westmeath could have been well in front. Healy continued to bang in the scores, and a goal in the first half gave his side a much-needed lift after Sligo had threatened to open up a comfortable lead. Paul McCormack had earlier opened up Sligo’s account with a well-taken goal, and Noel Fitzgerald and New York All Star Enda Henry each grabbed two points to move into a seemingly healthy lead before the break. Ollie Gaughran hit another for Westmeath right before the half time whistle to move his side to within three points of their opponents, after Fitzgerald had taken advantage of a dreadful Westmeath kickout to fire the ball over the bar.

Right after the break, Kevin Fitzpatrick hammered the ball home from the penalty spot, to move Sligo into a six-point lead. Healy hit back for Westmeath, and hit a penalty of his own past the outstretched arms of Dermot Fleming. Gaughran scored a point to move Sligo into the narrowest of deficits, and the game took on a new turn. It was then that Enda Henry took over. Scoring a fabulous point from the most difficult of angles, and then another almost immediately afterward from Paul McCormack, they gave Sligo the inspiration they so much-needed to win the game. Leading by four points, it seemed unlikely that they’d let victory slip from their grasp. Gaughran scored two late points in the game to bring Westmeath back into contention, and along with another from Healy it seemed as if they could snatch something from the tie.

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It was Sligo, though, who finished off the scoring. However, with Noel Fitzgerald scoring his fourth of the game to cap a fine personal performance. A three-point win for Sligo will certainly help their playoff hopes. Westmeath however, seem to be in trouble, with only one point obtained from four games, and with tough sides still to play, the playoffs seem atop a mighty mountain they must climb if they are to gain entry this year.

Westmeath: Pat Spellman, Brendan Carney, Peter Dalton, David Bailey, Niall McSherry, Collie Mathers, Tom Quinn, Kieran McGovern, Kieran Walsh, Brendan Coulter, Kieran Ryan, Barney Healy (1-5), Ollie Gaughran (1-2), Frank Kavanagh, Declan Cassidy.

Sligo: Dermot Fleming, Eamonn Duffy, Pat Kelly, Pauric Costello, Sean Cunney, Chris McManus, Mark Doyle, Paul McCormack (1-1), Kevin Fitzpatrick (1-0), Noel Fitzgerald (0-4), Stephen Healy, Martin Slevin (0-1), Conor Healy, Enda Henry (0-3), Brian Maloney. Subs: John Cribben, Pete Brennan.

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