Allianz HL D2A Final: Westmeath secure promotion
Allianz Hurling League Division 2A Final
WESTMEATH 0-12 KERRY 0-10
By Cian O'Connell at Cusack Park, Ennis
With the prize significant and the weather woeful unsurprisingly this turned into a compelling battle.
So Westmeath took immense joy and satisfaction from the fact that a victory was carved out to secure Division One status for 2020.
Ultimately that was what mattered as a Killian Doyle inspired Westmeath staged a gritty second half revival to defeat Kerry.
An interesting opening period eventually concluded with Kerry leading by 0-9 to 0-4 against a gritty Westmeath outfit.
The midlanders, playing into the teeth of a biting wind, started brightly clipping two early points courtesy of Niall Mitchell (free) and Killian Doyle, but Kerry responded.
Six of the next seven scores were registered by Kerry, who also squandered a string of decent opportunities.
That was proven with Kerry’s 0-9 first half total from 17 attempts, but Shane Conway did supply some flickers of class.
While his duel against Darragh Egerton was hard fought the Fitzgibbon Cup medalist with UCC did burst clear to clip 13th minute point.
Conway did contribute six points before the break for Kerry, but considering the elements the issue was still nicely poised.
Westmeath didn’t disappoint when the action recommenced with Killian Doyle assuming centre stage with some splendid interventions.
Having narrowed the gap to 0-10 to 0-6 Doyle subsequently mined four excellent points on the spin, including three from play.
It meant that Westmeath were trading at parity with 11 minutes remaining and with the increasing wind behind them.
Substitute Derek McNicholas edged Westmeath in front in the 60th minute as Joe Quaid’s outfit were relishing the physical exchanges.
Doyle’s sixth point of the afternoon put Wetsmeath two clear and it was sufficient.
Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 0-6 (2fs), Niall Mitchell 0-3 (3fs), Derek McNicholas, Darragh Clinton, and Allan Devine (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: Shane Conway 0-6 (4fs), Padraig Boyle 0-2, Daniel Collins and Jack Goulding (sideline) 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH: Aaron McHugh; Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle, Gary Greville; Paul Greville, Aonghus Clarke, Conor Shaw; Cormac Boyle, Shane Clavin; Joey Boyle, Killian Doyle, Robbie Greville; Allan Devine, Darragh Clinton, Niall Mitchell.
Subs: Derek McNicholas for Mitchell (44), Jack Galvin for Clinton (53), Aaron Craig for P Greville (66), Ciaran Doyle for Boyle (70+2).
KERRY: John B O’Halloran; Sean Weir, Bryan Murphy, James O’Connor; Paud Costello, Jason Diggins, Fionan Mackessy; Daniel Collins, Brandon Barrett; Padraig Boyle, Shane Conway, Michael O’Leary; Jack Goulding, Michael Boyle, Jordan Conway.
Subs: Dan Goggin for M Boyle (51), Tomas O’Connor for Costello (63), Daithi Griffin for J Conway (65), John Buckley for Weir (70+2).
REFEREE: Rory McGann (Clare) replaced by Nathan Wall (Cork) after 20 minutes.