GAA: Tyrone blast lowly Westmeath in a whirlwind second period to stay in contention in NFL Division One

Sean Cavanagh.
Sean Cavanagh.
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Second half goals from from Sean Cavanagh allowed the rejuvenated Tyrone to brush aside an obviously limited ability Westmeath side in Healy Park on Sunday afternoon.

Mark Donnelly shows his pace against Kieran Gavin.

Mark Donnelly shows his pace against Kieran Gavin.

For 35 minutes of the Division 1 National Football League encounter there was little to choose between the sides as Westmeath with the help of Dessie Dolan and the dangerous Dennis Glennon kept their side right in touch at the break, trailing by just a point.

Tyrone, however, were eager to make up for last Sunday’s second half capitulation at the hands of Kerry and they emerged a different team in the second half, increasing their workrate and intensity to a level that Westmeath struggled to match.

The Midlanders were dealt a blow just before the throw-in with their talisman John Heslin unable to take his place in the side, replaced in the team by David McCormack.

Tyrone, for their part, lined out as selected, Mattie Donnelly taking his place at centre half back, in spite of reports earlier in the week that he’d miss the rest of the season through injury.

It was Paul Bealin’s side that started the scoring, Dennis Glennon turning neatly to fire over from 25 metres in the fourth minute of the contest.

Westmeath could well have been further ahead in the opening 10 minutes but failed to take a number of good chances, as Tyrone struggled to find any rhythm.

As they began to find their feet, the Red Hands began to create chances and a foul on Shay McGuigan allowed Kyle Coney to get Tyrone moving.

Sean Cavanagh added to the Tyrone tally shortly after before Dessie Dolan slotted over from the visitors, Dennis Glennon doing the spadework in the build up.

Tyrone had earlier been forced into a change with Danny McBride replacing the unfortunate Ronan McNamee at full back, McNamee appearing to injury his knee after brilliantly dispossessing Glennon in the opening exchanges.

Tyrone led by two after 15 minutes as Ciaran McGinley fired over twice within a minute, only to see Westmeath respond once more Glennon and Kieran Martin on target for the visitors this time.

Conan Grugan and Dessie Dolan swapped scores as Westmeath continued to threaten on the counter attack, with Colm Cavanagh helping Tyrone to midfield dominance as the first half wore on.

Tyrone, however, kicked clear as they grabbed four of the next five scores, Niall Morgan and Cavanagh on target before Ger Egan responded.

Tyrone hit back again though with McGinley and Connor McAliskey both on target, the latter after an excellent team move involving Conor Clarke and Sean Cavanagh.

Westmeath tailed by three at this point but within a matter of minutes they’d pulled themselves level as Tyrone appeared to switch off before the break.

Glennon, Egan and Callum McCormack all contributed for the Midlanders only for McAliskey to point a late free, leaving Tyrone a point to the good at the break.

Tyrone emerged in the second period in a much more focussed frame of mind and it showed as they blitzed a hapless Westmeath.

Four points in the opening five minutes moved Mickey Harte’s charges clear, with Mark Donnelly opening the scoring after only a matter of seconds.

Niall Morgan from a free and Shay McGuigan added to Tyrone’s tally as Westmeath began to wilt.

Connor McAliskey added another point from play before Mark Donnelly dragged a glorious chance for a goal wide of Darren Quinn’s left hand upright with the goal at his mercy.

Dennis Glennon did his best to drag Westmeath back into the game with a point but Tyrone added to their total again with Kyle Coney on target with a mighty effort and Ciaran McGinley kicking his fourth of the afternoon.

Fourteen minutes in, a Westmeath revival looked possible as Ray Connellan fired brilliantly past Niall Morgan and into the top corner but Tyrone soon put an end to any such thoughts.

Straight from the kick out Tyrone responded with Mark Donnelly pointing and Sean Cavanagh fisting over inside a minute.

The goal was cancelled out as McAliskey added to his growing tally, before Niall Morgan got the biggest cheer of the game as he fired over a free from almost 60 metres out.

Four minutes later the result was put beyond any doubt as Ronan O’Neill, a half-time substitute for Conan Grugan swivelled and fired low into the corner of the Westmeath net.

After that, Tyrone were in cruise control with the corner forwards Connor McAliskey and Kyle Coney both adding to their totals, while Sean Cavanagh showed signs of returning to last season’s form as he 
slotted to the net past the helpless Quinn in the Westmeath goal.

Up next for Tyrone is a trip to Cork and a meeting with the table-toppjng Rebels, who will be smarting from a comprehensive defeat in Castlebar.