Experienced Westmeath pull away in second half

NHL Derry v Westmeath at Celtic Park, 11-3-12'Derry's Michael Warnock and Charles Gilmore with John Gilligan and Cormac Boyle of Westmeath at Celtic Park on Sunday. Picture Margaret McLaughlin  ? by-line
NHL Derry v Westmeath at Celtic Park, 11-3-12'Derry's Michael Warnock and Charles Gilmore with John Gilligan and Cormac Boyle of Westmeath at Celtic Park on Sunday. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ? by-line
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Derry 2-13 Westmeath 3-19.

AFTER a promising first half display against a very good Westmeath team at Celtic Park on Sunday the young Derry team faded in the second half and in the end the very experienced visitors went away with a nine point victory but the final margin was a bit harsh on Derry’s efforts.

It took a strong second half defensive display led by centre half Eoin Price and late call up at full back Darren McCormick to shut out a Derry attack that had looked pretty dangerous in the first half.

“We will learn from games like this, we are a young team and do not have the luxury that Westmeath have of being geographically close to the strong Leinster hurling areas” commented Derry manager Ger Rogan after the game.

With Brendan Murtagh deadly from frees the Westmeath took a firm hold early on but were rocked by an Alan Grant goal that saw Derry shoot into a three point lead.

A Dan Carthy goal restored the Westmeath lead but again Derry hit back with a Ruairi Convery major in the 22nd minute.

A Paul Greville goal in the 27th minute gave the Celtic Park visitors a grip on the game but their 2-9 to 2-8 half time lead looked anything but secure given the strong performance of Derry in the first 35 minutes..

With the slight breeze in their favour Westmeath took complete control for long periods with their long distance accuracy quite impressive.

Derry depended largely on the impressive free taking of Paddy Henry to keep them, on the fringes of the game until a defensive mix up allowed a long range effort from John Gilligan to bounce into the net in the 65th minute and from there to the end there wa sjust going to one winner.

Westmeath manager Brian Hanley commented after the game “We have just a few of last years team on duty now, then we lost our first two, this year we have won them. Derry have some fine hurlers, they will improve.

This Sunday Derry face another tough task away to Ulster rivals Down who like Derry have just a point from to games both via drawn games with Wicklow. Kevin Hinphey is likely to be fully fit for that game and that will strengthen Derry in the midfield area where they struggled at times against Westmeath.

Westmeath scorers B. Murtagh 0-9, 8 frees 1 ’65, P. Greville 1-2, D. Carthy 1-1, F. Boyle 0-4, J. Gilligan 1-0, J. Clarke. A. Dermody 0-1 each.

Derry scorers P. Henry 0-10 9 frees, R. Convery 1-2, A. Grant 1-0, P. McCloskey 0-1.

Westmeath. S. McGovern , P. Fennell , A. Price , C. Jordan , J. Gilligan , E. Price , P. Gilsenan , P. Dowdall , J. Clarke , F. Boyle , B. Murtagh , P. Greville , A. Dermody , C. Boyle , D. Carthy , Subs A. Clarke for C. Boyle (50) A. Aughley for B. Murtagh (60) K. Orme for P. Fennell (68) and E. Clarke for P. Dowdall (68)

Derry. C. Doherty , J. McCloskey , C. Quinn , L. Hawkins , R. McCloskey L. Hinphey , M. Warnock , O. McCloskey , D. McCloskey , S. McNicholl , R. Convery , A. Grant , P. Henry , P. McCloskey , S. Farren . Subs J. Mulholland for S. McNicholl (25) C. Gilmore for D. McCloskey, A. McCloskey for J. McCloskey (55) K. Hinphey for S. Farren (66)

Referee D. Magee, Down.

Star Man: Eoin Price Westmeath