Westmeath goalie Adam Buckley is tackled by Tipperary’s Charlie Walsh during last Saturday’s game in Templetuohy. Photos: Bridget Delaney.

Westmeath minor footballers too strong for Tipperary

Westmeath 3-19, Tipperary 0-10

Westmeath went on the rampage in the second half of this All-Ireland minor football tier three quarter-final at Templetuohy on Saturday, scoring three goals to shatter the hopes of a Tipperary side that had ambitions of annexing the honours in this new competition. They will now meet either Waterford or Laois in the semi-final next Saturday.

Having disposed of Carlow in the previous round by a similarly large margin, Westmeath will be looking forward with optimism to the semi-final draw, their self-belief boosted by these two huge winning margins.

A victory of 18 points did not look likely in the first half as the home side raced into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 14 minutes, but the second quarter saw Westmeath outscore their rivals 0-6 to 0-3, to be just two points adrift at the break, 0-7 to 0-9.

James McHugh and William Scahill were the main architects of the Westmeath resurgence with three points each while Cormac McKeogh had their opening point after five minutes.

Westmeath had goalkeeper Adam Buckley to thank for a point-blank save from Tipperary’s Patrick McDonagh after 17 minutes. Significantly, however, Tipp were playing with the fresh downfield breeze and the consensus was that a two points advantage would not be enough to see them through.

And so it transpired, although there were two narrow escapes for Westmeath in the opening minutes of the second half as the home side shot two poor wides and also saw Ryan O'Sullivan hook his shot wide when a goal seemed inevitable.

However, from that on there was only one team in it. Two McHugh points had Westmeath on level terms by the 36th minute. He followed with two more and a Cormac McKeogh point had Westmeath in the driving seat after 43 minutes(0-12 to 0-10).

Again Tipp spurned a goal chance when Jamal Yousef hit the crossbar with a pile-driver in the 46th minute.

Had Tipp taken either of those two goal chances, the game might have taken a different shape but Westmeath turned on the style in the last quarter. A brilliantly executed move involving Cormac McKeogh, Andrew Henson and James McHugh ended with McHugh tucking the ball neatly into the net for the goal that opened the floodgates.

A minute later, William Scahill profited from a turnover in midfield to race through for Westmeath’s second goal. It was game over with ten minutes to go, but the Westmeath goal rush was not finished yet as substitute Rory O'Brien added a third to put the seal on a most comprehensive win.

On the back of these two wins Westmeath will look forward to the semi-finals with confidence. Clearly there is a lot of talent in the squad and while James McHugh and William Scahill were the stand-out stars in this encounter, the qualities of Cormac McKeogh, Adam Smyth, Cian Whitney, Daire O'Brien and goalie Adam Buckley were also worthy of note.

To be fair to Tipp, they were not an inferior side by 18 points but the spurned goal chances crippled them. They have had a good run this year with some very promising players emerging such as Tom Corcoran, Charlie Walsh, Dylan Cotter, Jack McGonigle, Patrick McDonagh and Ciaran Kelly, but they still have some distance to go at development level before they are ready to mix it with the stronger counties.

Scorers - Westmeath: J McHugh 1-9 (0-7 frees); W Scahill 1-5; R O'Brien 1-0; C McKeogh 0-2; D Lough, M Weir and D O'Brien 0-1 each. Tipperary: C Walsh 0-3; T Corcoran 0-2; D Cotter, C Healy, P McDonagh, C Kelly and R O'Sullivan 0-1 each.

Westmeath: Adam Buckley; Ben Sheerin, Cian Whitney, Daire Burke; Ty Masterson, Adam Smyth, Jack Carroll; Mikey Weir, Daire O'Brien; Andrew Henson, Daragh Lough, Cormac McKeogh; James McHugh, Ryan Flynn, William Scahill. Subs: Michael Moloney for Flynn (36 mins), Rory Hatton for Burke (47), Brian Ronan for Scahill (57), Sean Byrne for McKeogh (57), Rory O'Brien for Lough (57).

Tipperary: Mark Conroy; Jack McGonigle, Ronan Myles, Gavin Neville; Danny Morris, Tom Corcoran, Jack Garrett; Dylan Cotter, Oran Gahan; Cillian Healy, Patrick McDonagh, Sean Griffin; Ciaran Kelly, Charlie Walsh, Ryan O'Sullivan. Subs: Jamal Yousef for Griffin (39 mins), Luke McKeogh for Healy (45), Alex Coppinger for O'Sullivan (45), Dayle Hogan for Gahan (55), Cian Collins for Neville (56).

Referee: Timmy McGrath, Limerick.