Offaly manager Leo O'Connor talks to his players after the Leinster MHC semi-final win over Westmeath.

Offaly take command in second half to deny Westmeath

Electric Ireland Leinster MHC semi-final: Offaly 2-18 Westmeath 1-8

Lochlann Quinn scored 11 points as Offaly claimed what was ultimately a comfortable victory over Westmeath in this Leinster MHC semi-final at TEG Cusack Park this afternoon (Sunday).

The final scoreline might be somewhat flattering, with Offaly decorating their victory with a second goal deep in added time. But there was no doubt that that they were by far the better team overall.

Westmeath led 1-7 to 1-5 at half-time and Noel Conaty’s charges added to that lead with a pointed free from Eamonn Cunneen (his fifth point) shortly after the restart. Remarkably, however, it would be Westmeath’s only score of the entire second half.

Offaly found the net inside the opening minute through Luke Carey, but wind-assisted Westmeath responded with a goal of their own seconds later courtesy of David Williams, after Mark Troy had initially denied Darragh McCormack.

In truth, the spirited home side should have been further ahead at half-time, with a tally of six first-half wides (compared to none for Offaly) proving costly. Chulainn Dowd of Southern Gaels more than justified his call-up to the Westmeath team with two points, while the excellent Sean Leech battled valiantly throughout.

But with Birr’s Lochlann Quinn prolific from both placed balls and open play, Offaly took total command in the second half. Westmeath were struggling to retain possession from their puckouts and they rarely looked like conjuring a badly needed second goal.

The influential Luke Carey finished with 1-3 for Offaly, while substitute Daniel Bourke scored their second goal with the last puck of the game. Tullamore’s Cormac Egan also impressed for Leo O’Connor’s side, just 24 hours after he helped the Offaly minor footballers reach the Leinster final with victory over Kildare.

Westmeath finished with 13 players after David Maloney and Peter Clarke were shown straight red cards in the closing stages. Offaly also had a player sent off on a straight red, substitute Andrew Coakley, which means he’s set to miss the upcoming Leinster final against Kilkenny.

In addition to the three red cards, a total of 11 yellow cards were shown by referee Chris Mooney, with some of his decisions causing bewilderment on both sides.

SCORERS

Offaly: L Quinn 0-11 (0-5f, 0-1 ‘65’); L Carey 1-3; D Bourke 1-0; C Mitchell 0-2; E Murphy and C Egan 0-1 each. Westmeath: E Cunneen 0-5 (3f); D Williams 1-0; C Dowd 0-2; D McCormack 0-1.

OFFALY: Mark Troy; Ruairi Dunne, Charlie Bracken, Oisin Kilmartin; Luke Watkins, Sam Bourke, Joseph Hoctor; Colin Spain, Cathal King; Lochlann Quinn, Cormac Egan, Eoin Murphy; Luke Carey, Charlie Mitchell, Lee Hogan. Subs: Andrew Coakley for Hogan (51); Cian Nolan for Murphy (54); Daniel Bourke for Egan (60); Adam Landy for Spain (60); Barry Egan for Carey (62).

WESTMEATH: Jack Geoghegan; David Maloney, Jamie Mulkearns, David Weir; Danny McCartan, Sean Leech, Chulainn Dowd; Peter Clarke, Mark Cunningham; Brian McGrath, Darragh McCormack, Brian Gaffney; Warric Kirby, David Williams, Eamonn Cunneen. Subs: Rian Holding for Gaffney (43); David Aughey for Dowd (48).

REFEREE: Chris Mooney (Dublin).

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