Westmeath's Brian McGrath races clear of Antrim's Diarmuid Davoren, in Saturday's Leinster U20 hurling championship game at TEG Cusack Park.

O'Reilly and Williams grab vital goals as under 20 hurlers prevail

Gerry Buckley

Westmeath 2-14 Antrim 3-8

Despite having the aid of an extra man for the entire second half, Westmeath's U20 hurlers made hard work of disposing of Antrim in a Leinster championship second round robin tie in TEG Cusack Park on Saturday afternoon.

There was very little between the sides in the opening quarter, at the end of which they were tied at 0-3 each. Peter Murphy edged Westmeath ahead, but a brace of Diarmuid Davoren frees nudged the Glensmen in front.

In the 23rd minute, David O'Reilly scored a great individual goal for the home team. Two points followed from Murphy and Michael Doherty (when a goal beckoned) before David Williams scored Westmeath's second goal in the 25th minute (after Brian McGrath's initial shot had been saved).

The respective number 13s, Jack McCloskey and O'Reilly, then came close to goaling at either end. Westmeath led by 2-6 to 0-6 at the interval. Antrim's Eoin McFerran was red-carded for an incident after the half-time whistle had been blown.

Antrim showed scant regard for their numerical disadvantage on the change of ends, and when Seanie McIntosh's 36th-minute sideline cut found the net via a Westmeath defender's hand, the gap was just two points (2-7 to 1-8).

A brace of converted placed balls from Williams (a '65' and a free) stretched the Lake County lead, but a flicked goal from Aidan Scullion in the 43rd minute had the deficit down to the bare minimum (2-9 to 2-8).

Westmeath were five points to the good when the visitors scored their third goal in the 59th minute courtesy of Niall McGarel. However, a late point from sub Calum McKeogh enabled Westmeath to hang on for a hard-earned victory.

Andrew Dermody’s charges remain in contention for a knockout place and will face Meath next weekend in Mullingar.

Scorers - Westmeath: D Williams 1-4 (0-2f, 0-1'65'), D O'Reilly 1-3, P Murphy, E Cunneen 0-2 each, C McKeogh, B McGrath, M Doherty 0-1 each. Antrim: D Davoren 0-5 (5f), N McGarel, A Scullion 1-1 each, S McIntosh 1-0 (s/l), C McGarry 0-1 (f).

Westmeath: Sean Jackson; David Weir, Jamie Mulkearns, Conor Gaffney; Rian Holding, Mikey Lynam, David Maloney; Oisín Loughlin, Eamon Cunneen; Brian McGrath, Mark Cunningham, Michael Doherty; David O’Reilly, David Williams, Peter Murphy. Subs used: Josh Murtagh for Loughlin (40), Calum McKeogh for Cunneen (49), Oisín Murray for McGrath (56), Cian McCarthy for Doherty (57), Robbie Cleary for Murphy (60+1).

Antrim: Eoghan Richmond; Conor Boyle, Dubhaltach Wilson, Darragh Patterson; Ben McGarry, Eoin Trainor, Eoin McFerran; Aodhan McGarry, Diarmuid Davoren; Seanie McIntosh, Christy McGarry, Ryan Mort; Jack McCloskey, Niall McGarel, Aidan Scullion. Subs used: Cormac McKeown for Mort (h-t), Joseph McLaughlin for McCloskey (42), Ronan McCollum for McIntosh (51), Pearce Patterson for Boyle (51).

Ref: Gearóid McGrath (Wexford).