Westmeath’s Darragh McCormack is challenged by Martin McKenna of Derry, in the Leinster U20 hurling championship at TEG Cusack Park. Pics: J McCauley.

Five goal salvo propels U20 hurlers to easy win

Westmeath 5-18, Derry 0-13

A dominant display ensured Westmeath recorded an emphatic victory over Derry in the Leinster U20 hurling championship at TEG Cusack Park on Saturday.

In a one-sided game, Kevin O’Brien’s charges were in no mood to rest on their laurels having been forced to settle for a draw after losing a nine-point lead against Meath in the opening round. This time they were more clinical and stuck to the task for the entire 60-plus minutes to ensure a meeting with Carlow in the preliminary quarter-final.

Westmeath were seldom troubled by Derry and backed by a strong wind, the home team led by 0-5 to 0-0 before Ivan Smyth scored their first goal in the 11th minute. The one-way traffic continued with Derry only registering two points in the first half from frees by Ruairí Ó Mianáin and James Friel. David O’Reilly scored two more Westmeath goals in the 21st and 28th minutes to put his side in front by 3-10 to 0-2 at the interval.

Derry’s first score from play came via Aimon Duffin in the 40th minute. Even though they had the wind behind them on the change of ends, the Oak Leaf lads never threatened to significantly eat into their opponents’ lead, despite the best efforts of wing forward Ó Mianáin who scored five outstanding points from play as the half progressed.

The young Lake County men kept the scoreboard ticking over with regular points, and they also scored a further two goals in the second half, courtesy of their senior star David Williams (in the 53rd minute) and Darragh McCormack (two minutes from the end of normal time) en route to a very facile victory.

Overall, this was certainly an improved display, albeit against a weak Derry side, who only really offered one big threat in attack in the form of wing forward Ruairí Ó Mianáin. The first goal after 11 minutes came following sustained pressure as Peter Clarke, David Williams and Ivan Smyth combined for the latter to finish well with a low strike, having initially lost control of the ball.

Westmeath built on that lead with David Williams very accurate and Derry’s two first half points came from placed balls (Ó Mianáin and centre back James Friel on target). The second goal came from the impressive David O’Reilly, who took a pass from Peter Murphy and raced through before finishing low to the net.

O’Reilly’s second major showed his strength in the air, the Castletown Geoghegan hurler claiming a high ball and finding the net with a good strike. Some of Westmeath’s play was excellent and there were fine scores from the likes of WIlliams, Darragh McCormack, Peter Murphy, Peter Clarke and Conor Heffernan as each of the six forwards got on the score sheet in the opening half.

McCormack’s brilliant point from near the terrace sideline in the sixth minute showed his undoubted class.


Derry had the elements in their favour for the second half and that ought to have helped them, but aside from an early free from James Friel, Westmeath were the dominant force. The home side’s work rate impressed and Heffernan, centre back Brian McCabe and O’Reilly got nice scores from play as they opened up a 3-16 to 0-6 lead by the three quarter stage.

By the time Williams found the net for Westmeath’s fourth goal on 53 minutes, the game was well and truly over as a contest. Nevertheless, it was a good finish by the Lough Lene Gaels man to put his side into a 21-point lead.

Peter Clarke’s pass sent Darragh McCormack clear to score the final goal in the 58th minute - another well engineered score for a superior Westmeath side. O’Brien said afterwards that he was intent on keeping his side fully focused for the entire game and in that respect, he can be well pleased with what was delivered over the course of the match, but Carlow will provide a tougher test one suspects.

Scorers - Westmeath: D Williams 1-8 (0-7f), D O’Reilly 2-3, D McCormack 1-1, I Smyth 1-0, C Heffernan 0-3, P Clarke, P Murphy, B McCabe 0-1 each. Derry: J Friel (6f), R Ó Mianáin (1f) 0-6 each, A Duffin 0-1.

Westmeath: Sean Jackson; David Maloney, Jack Murtagh, Conor Gaffney; Darragh Smith, Brian McCabe, Calum McKeogh; Rian Holding, Ivan Smyth; David Williams, Darragh McCormack, David O’Reilly; Conor Heffernan, Peter Murphy, Peter Clarke. Subs: Thomas Meehan for Murphy (h-t), Josh Murtagh for McCabe (45), Tom Flynn for Maloney (45), Neale Pierson for Heffernan (49), Cian Geary for McKeogh (49).

Derry: Aodan McCallion; Jamie Lee McGlade, Martin McKenna, Odhrán McClenaghan; Andy McBride, James Friel, Ben Kearney; Aimon Duffy, Eunan Boylan; Ruairí Ó Mianáin, Conor Murtagh, Segdáe Melaugh; Odhrán McElhinney, Eamon Cassidy, Sullivan Quinn. Subs: Ben Kealey for Boylan (38), Ryan McAdams for Quinn (49), James McDaid for Murtagh (52), Conan Bradley for McElhinney (55), Shea Walsh for Melaugh (55).

Referee: Brian Kearney (Kildare).

Man of the match: David O’Reilly (Westmeath): The talented O’Reilly got 2-3 from play in what was a fine display and his ability to secure possession in the air impressed at times. David Williams offered plenty, while Rian Holding, Calum McKeogh and Ivan Smyth played their parts on different occasions.

Score of the match: The goals were well taken, but Darragh McCormack’s superb point from near the terrace sideline after three minutes was a score of real quality: even though he was off balance and under pressure, the Castlepollard man got a fine strike in to register a terrific score.

Match officials: There was generally no issue with the officiating, but certainly Derry’s Ruairí Ó Mianáin and Westmeath’s Peter Clarke rode their luck when tussling off-the-ball on a few occasions. It was a surprise none of the officials picked up on such persistent foul play off-the-ball and it’s an area they need to be sharp on as it can often lead to major incidents.

Next up: Westmeath will take on Carlow next Saturday in TEG Cusack Park in the preliminary quarter-final.