By Jack Flynn
Westmeath 0-12, Cavan 2-2
Ugly. Poorly played. Uninspiring. These are all adjectives that readily spring to mind when trying to describe the Senior Football Div. I match between Westmeath and Cavan at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
Westmeath eventually emerged as the victor, 0-12 to 2-2, but not because they were the better team of the day. More accurately, Cavan was simply worse.
The boys in blue had few scoring opportunities throughout the hour, but routinely botched them when they did. Cavan’s four scores had less to do with their own offensive prowess as it was Westmeath’s defensive mistakes.
Kieran O’Sullivan was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreary match, scoring five points to lead all scorers.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
“We had some chances, and we should have put them away more, but we didn’t,” O’Sullivan said. “It was a tough battle and it’s great that we were able to succeed.”
Westmeath were able to succeed mainly because of the efforts of O’Sullivan and David Fitzgerald, who chipped in with four points. The two combined to score Westmeath’s first nine points.
For the most part, the match was controlled by Westmeath. The first 30 minutes were mostly played in Cavan’s end as Westmeath struggled to take advantage of their opponent’s frequent mistakes.
However, Westmeath couldn’t score enough points to put Cavan away completely. Two points from O’Sullivan and three points for Fitzgerald accounted for Westmeath’s total in the opening half.
Cavan had just one score, but it was an important one. Midfielder Seamus Murphy got behind the Westmeath line of defense and powered home a shot past keeper Pat Spellman. With 30 minutes left to be played, the score was 0-5 to 1-0 in favor of Westmeath.
The second half, like the first half, was owned by Westmeath. They used five straight points to take an 0-10 to 1-0 lead. O’Sullivan scored three times, while Fitzgerald and Jurgen Werner each put a ball over the bar.
Cavan had a chance to pull closer, but Joe Cassidy was stopped on a penalty kick by a beautiful save from Spellman.
Finally, Ian Robertson broke Cavan’s scoring drought by notching a point and pulling his team within six of Westmeath.
After substitute Joe Firth added to Westmeath’s lead, Barry Annette scored Cavan’s second goal to make the score 0-11 to 2-1. The 4-point disparity between the sides temporarily enflamed the hopes of the Cavan faithful, but their team wasn’t able to rise to the occasion.
A fine point from Paddy Sheanon brought Cavan within a goal, but they would get no closer. A late Westmeath point eventually sealed Cavan’s fate.
Westmeath scorers: O’Sullivan 0-5, Fitzgerald 0-4, Werner, Firth and Kenny 0-1.
Cavan: Annette and Murphy 1-0, Robertson and Sheanon 0-1.