Westmeath secure their first ever hurling championship win over neighbours Meath
By Daragh Small
Last Updated: 15/05/17 11:09am
Killian Doyle scored the decisive goal as Westmeath secured their first ever championship win over neighbours Meath with a 1-18 to 0-19 victory at Cusack Park to qualify for the Leinster SHC quarter-final for the third time in a row.
This win sets up a quarter-final meeting with Offaly on May 27 and ensures that Meath will play in the Christy Ring Cup next season, having won the competition last year to make their first appearance in Leinster since 2004.
Allan Devine scored six points as Westmeath held a 0-9 to 0-6 half-time lead. Derek McNicholas' dismissal just before the break could have been costly, but they remained on top and Doyle's 51st-minute strike made the difference.
Meath continued their brilliant league form into the Leinster group stage where they started out with a win over Kerry. But Martin Ennis' side came unstuck against Laois last time out and this defeat sends them back to the second tier Christy Ring Cup for 2018.
Meath played against the breeze in the first-half but they flew into the game and within 20 seconds stalwart Steven Clynch had them ahead.
Doyle levelled for Westmeath and the pacey Adam Gannon pushed Meath back in front shortly after.
Then Devine and Mark O'Sullivan swapped scores before Westmeath took over and threatened to run away with the game.
Westmeath's experience was starting to tell and they hit four points in a row with Devine adding three frees and McNicholas on target with a massive effort.
Clynch and O'Sullivan were the chief threats in front of goal for Meath in the league, but they had the worst scoring difference in the round-robin series coming into this game.
They struggled to find a way through up front, although wing-back Keith Keoghan brought Meath back into the game with their fourth point in the 26th minute.
But Westmeath pulled away again and Doyle tacked on his second score before Devine pointed for the fifth and sixth time in the half.
However, towards the end of the first-half McNicholas was involved in an off-the-ball incident that left Shane Brennan injured.
Referee Colm Cunning issued a straight red card before two late points for Meath from James Kelly reduced the arrears to 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time.
Keoghan gave Meath the perfect start to the second-half with a point in the 37th minute. But Westmeath scored three of the next four points to give them a 0-13 to 0-9 lead 10 minutes into the second-half.
Meath never gave up and when Clynch scored his third point in the 51st minute the deficit was back to the minimum. But just as Meath looked like they were getting back into the game Doyle struck for the only goal of the game.
That came with 19 minutes remaining and pushed Westmeath 1-16 to 0-12 in front before Meath came with a late charge but came up short.
Westmeath: P Maloney; C Shaw, T Doyle, T Gallagher; A Craig, P Greville, S Power; C Boyle (0-1), G Greville; A Devine (0-9, 0-6 frees), A Clarke (0-2), N Mitchell; K Doyle (1-3), D McNicholas (0-1), R Greville (0-2).
Subs: N O'Brien for Gallagher (55), J Boyle for Mitchell (65), J Galvin for K Doyle (67), D Egerton for Shaw (72).
Meath: S McGann; S Whitty, D Kelly (0-2, 0-1 free), C Reilly; S Brennan, D Healy, K Keoghan (0-2); A Forde, S Geraghty; K Keena, J Keena, S Clynch (0-5, 0-3 frees); M O'Sullivan (0-1), N Heffernan, A Gannon (0-4).
Subs: J Kelly (0-2) for Keena (27), G McGowan (0-1) for Heffernan (38), S Quigley (0-2, 0-2 frees) for J Keena (58), C McCabe for O'Sullivan (60), P Kelly for Clynch (66).
Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim).