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Antrim no match for classy Westmeath

By Gerry Buckley

Westmeath 3-17 Antrim 0-17: A very youthful Antrim team bowed out of the Walsh Shield in front of a very small crowd in pleasant conditions at Cusack Park, Mullingar yesterday afternoon.

Westmeath won an entertaining semi-final clash by three clear goals and they will now go on to play Carlow in next Sunday's decider.

There was very little between the sides in the opening 23 minutes at the end of which they were tied at 0-6.

Two successful placed balls – a '65' and a 60-metre free – from Ciaran Clarke soon nudged the visitors in front, but Aonghus Clarke's opportunist goal in the 29th minute put the home team into a lead they never looked likely to relinquish.

A well taken second goal in added-time from Robbie Greville left Westmeath four points up at the break (2-8 to 0-10).

With their inspirational team captain Eoin Price leading the way at centrefield, Westmeath increased their advantage to seven points (2-11 to 0-10) by the 45th minute.

Kevin Ryan's charges took control midway through the second half and, despite wasting a number of good opportunities from frees and open play, the Glensmen had reduced the deficit to four points with five minutes remaining, with Ciaran Clarke always threatening at corner forward. However, Antrim's eight wides to Westmeath's one in the second moiety was to prove costly.

The home team wrapped up a deserved win when a fine move ended with Davy Gavin kicking the ball to the net to put Brian Hanley's men into next weekend's decider.

WESTMEATH: P Maloney; P Fennell, T Doyle, L Varley; P Reilly, T Gallagher, G Greville (0-1); E Price (0-2), P Gilsenan; R Greville (1-2, 0-1f), D Gavin (1-0), C Curley (0-2); N Conaty (0-8, 7f), A McGrath (0-2), A Clarke (1-0). Subs: K Duncan for Fennell (27), S Fagan for Gilsenan (49), C Glennon for Curley (55), S Savage for R Greville (67, inj.).

ANTRIM: C Heyden; T O Ciaran, E Campbell, M Bradley (0-1); D McGuinness, Ciaran Johnson, S Dooey; J McGreevy, M Dudley (0-1); S McAfee (0-3, 1f), N McKenna, T Morgan; Conor Johnson (0-3), R McCambridge (0-1), C Clarke (0-8, 6f, 1'65'). Subs: B McFaul for McKenna (41), S Rooney for McGuinness (43), C Burke for Dooey (54), D Kearney for Dudley (68).

Referee: A Stapleton (Laois).

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