Wexford overcome spirited Westmeath
All Ireland SHC Preliminary Quarter-Final
WEXFORD 2-21 WESTMEATH 0-16
By Daragh Small at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar
David Dunne impressed as Wexford advanced to face Clare in the All-Ireland quarter-finals with a win against Westmeath at Cusack Park in Mullingar.
Davy Fitzgerald’s side had not played since losing to Kilkenny on 9 June, but Dunne’s first half goal gifted them a comfortable 1-12 to 0-8 lead at half-time.
Wexford had registered six wides in the opening half, but Westmeath missed on five occasions, and they needed to make every chance count.
Unfortunately for them Wexford had a bright start to the second half, and after a brief Westmeath comeback Conor McDonald’s goal ended the game as a contest.
Westmeath made the fast start and two points from Allan Devine inspired the hosts. But they were quickly cancelled out by Conor McDonald and Lee Chin (free).
Wexford led for the first time in the seventh minute when Paul Morris pointed, but Derek McNicholas’ huge effort drew the sides level again.
The visitors seemed to be in control of the game but they had their chances and failed to convert, most notably when Paddy Carroll saved brilliantly from David Dunne in the 18th minute.
Chin missed the subsequent '65 too, but that was followed by a fourth wide from Westmeath, when Eoin Price misfired. But Aidan Nolan’s third point was a fifth in a row for Wexford, and they held a 0-10 to 0-4 lead in the 25th minute.
Kevin Foley and Matthew O’Hanlon both missed goal chance approaching half-time as Wexford looked to pull clear.
But when Nolan broke through the heart of the Westmeath defence in the 27th minute he found Dunne in space and his goal gave Wexford a healthy eight-point lead.
Devine, Aonghus Clarke and Cormac Boyle scored unanswered points for Westmeath but Jack O’Connor landed the final point of the half.
It meant Wexford were 1-12 to 0-8 ahead at the break and Chin extended that lead with a free on the resumption, but McDonald’s goal killed the game in the 46th minute.
Westmeath had scored three points in a row but all of that work was undone when McDonald latched onto a pass from Liam Óg McGovern and finished to the net.
Devine went on to score eight points in defeat, but Wexford's bench did further damage late on.
Scorers for Wexford: Lee Chin 0-7 (0-6f, 0-1 65), David Dunne 1-1, Conor McDonald 1-1, Aidan Nolan 0-4, Harry Kehoe 0-2, Paul Morris 0-1, Jack O’Connor 0-1, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-1, Shaun Murphy 0-1, Liam Ryan 0-1, Shane Tomkins 0-1.
Scorers for Westmeath: Allan Devine 0-8 (6fs), Aonghus Clarke 0-2, Eoin Price 0-2, Derek McNicholas 0-1, Cormac Boyle 0-1, Ciarán Doyle 0-1, Joey Boyle 0-1.
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Damien Reck, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe; Paudie Foley, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Kevin Foley, Shaun Murphy; Lee Chin, Aidan Nolan, Jack O’Connor; Paul Morris, David Dunne, Conor McDonald.
Subs: Liam Óg McGovern for Morris (43), Willie Devereux for O’Keeffe (54), Harry Kehoe for O’Connor (63), Shane Tomkins for O’Connor (63), Éanna Martin for Reck (69).
WESTMEATH: Paddy Carroll; Conor Shaw, Tommy Doyle, John Gilligan; Shane Clavin, Paul Greville, Derek McNicholas; Eoin Price, Aonghus Clarke; Robbie Greville, Ciarán Doyle, Cormac Boyle; Niall O’Brien, Niall Mitchell, Allan Devine.
Subs: Joey Boyle for McNicholas (44), Liam Varley for Boyle (54), Darragh Clinton for Doyle (58), Aaron Craig for Shaw (69).
REFEREE: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).