Leinster MHC: Offaly 4-25 Westmeath 1-4

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Leinster MHC: Offaly 4-25 Westmeath 1-4

Post by Lone Shark » Sun Apr 16, 2006 7:57 pm

While it’s probably a bit of an overstatement to say that this game was a pointless exercise, you certainly couldn’t say either team will have taken a lot from it. From Westmeath’s point of view, this was the second hammering they have taken in this round robin section, and based on Carlow’s two strong performances thus far, it’s safe to say that a third hiding is in the offing for our northern neighbours. While on the one hand it’s hard to suppress a wry smile at the idea of a Westmeath team of any ilk getting a trimming, at the same time it’s doing this particular panel of players no good at all to be in with this company when clearly they belong in with the likes of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow instead. They have some individuals who look like they have the makings of good hurlers – the half forward combination of Owen Price and Niall Kilcoyne certainly held their own, while Eanna Doolin at centre back and then full back can certainly hold his own head high after a reasonable display – but ultimately too many of their players were just hopelessly out of their depth at this level.

It is on that basis that we must judge the Offaly performance that we saw on Saturday afternoon, and with that in mind it’s very hard to make any clear cut statements one way or another. On the one hand the defence was dominant, the midfield and half forwards hurled ball well and the scorers took their chances – on the other hand with such poor opposition, it’s probably not unreasonable to say that mistakes were just not punished in this arena at all.

The positive points, as I read them, were:

(i) Irrespective of the opposition, 4-25 is a fine tally of scores. Particularly when one factors in that there were only four wides, certainly the forwards couldn’t be faulted.
(ii) Physically, the half back line was quite imposing, an attribute which is certainly very valuable at this level. Some balls were missed, but generally they were a good platform – Derek Morkan in particular had a fine game and wouldn’t have been far off man of the match.
(iii) This performance was without the absent Colm Coughlan and with Diarmuid Horan very much operating at half pace. If one were to assume that these two will be back and playing to their full potential, it would certainly add a good bit to the team.
(iv) For a side that had seven (by my count – I could be mistaken) players that will be minor again next year, they were both physically capable and very skilled.
(v) Mark Egan was one player I was surprised to see playing, but he contributed well and his free taking was excellent – a good free taker is always valuable in minor games where referees like to encourage fair play and he’ll certainly play his part on that basis alone – however with 1-4 from play as well, he’s no one trick pony.
(vi) Several of the players on the bench are players that you’d be happy to see get involved – Mark Bevans in particular looked the part when he came in. That kind of depth should stand to us.


Against all that, there were negatives as well – which by my reading were as follows:

(i) Some of the clearances out of the back line were suspect and at times there was real hesitancy in the back line. The Westmeath goal came from a lack of concentration while they took a quick free – though it was late in the game – and in general the full back line rarely got the ball out beyond halfway.
(ii) It was a very physical game, with by my count six or seven hurls broken – at least – and this is not including the Westmeath midfielder Robbie Jackson who received a straight red. This is not really a concern specific to Offaly, but in general a tighter rein could have been held on the game by the Meath referee.
(iii) The small spread of clubs is worrying. While it is always a factor on Offaly teams, in this case there were a lot of clubs conspicuous by their absence. No club from “football” Offaly had so much as one panellist – not one Tullamore, Shamrocks, both strong dual clubs – while even in hurling areas there were notable absentees. Coolderry had one sub in Barry Larkin. Lusmagh had the goalie, while Drumcullen, Ballyskenagh and Killavilla were all without representation. There will always be clubs going through lean spells, but this narrow a range is not good for the county.

Overall, this team did what they had to do, while Carlow proved their strong showing the last day out was no fluke by beating Laois. We still have a long way to go to challenge Kilkenny, but on any given day all you can do is beat whatever is put in front of you – that this Westmeath team should not have been put in that position is a whole other debate.

Offaly: Eoin Kelly; Joe Dunican, Stephen Wynne, Donal Coughlan; James Mulrooney (0-1), Brian Leonard, Derek Morkan (0-2); Diarmuid Horan (0-1, ’65), Colin Egan; James Gorman (0-2), Aaron Whelahan (0-1), Ger Scales (0-1); Mark Egan (1-9, 0-5 frees), Daniel Currams (3-4), Odhran Kealey (0-3).

Subs: Mark Bevans (0-1) for James Gorman, Paul Quirke for Aaron Whelahan, Barry Larkin for Daniel Currams, Eanna Murphy for Ger Scales.

Westmeath: Jimmy Greville; Christopher Flanagan, Ciarán Curley, Darren Grenagh; Stephen Conway, Eanna Doolin, Jimmy Boyle; Robbie Jackson, Alan Giles; Jamie Shaw, Owen Price (0-3, 0-2 frees), Niall Kilcoyne (1-1); Alan Devine, Christopher Harten, Shane Boyce.

Subs: Gerry Rynne for Ciarán Curley, Shane Power for Alan Giles, Andy Creevy for Jimmy Greville, Shane Collins for Christopher Harten.


Referee: Noel Bartley (Meath)

Clubs:

Lusmagh: Eoin Kelly
Kilcormac/Killoughey: Joe Dunican, Brian Leonard, James Gorman, Daniel Currams
St. Rynagh’s: Stephen Wynne, Diarmuid Horan, Ger Scales, Paul Quirke
Seir Kieran: Donal Coughlan, James Mulrooney
Shinrone: Derek Morkan, Mark Bevans
Belmont: Colin Egan, Mark Egan
Birr: Aaron Whelahan
Kinnitty: Odhran Kealey
Coolderry: Barry Larkin

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