Written by Gerry Buckley
Like their football counterparts in Derry, the Westmeath senior hurlers got their National League campaign off to the best possible start by taking full points from their trip to Carlow last Sunday.
Michael Ryan’s men never came close to hitting top form in the first half at Netwatch Cullen Park, at the end of which the teams were tied at 0-8 apiece. However, an avoidable red card picked up by Aaron Craig in injury-time left the odds stacked against the visitors on the change of ends.
The home team had edged two points ahead by the 44th minute but, two minutes later, the game became 14-a-side when Carlow’s recently-introduced sub James Doyle was sent off.
It was nip and tuck thereafter, but some terrific points by the Lake County attackers, allied to staunch defending, helped the men in maroon and white to a two-point lead with six minutes of normal time remaining.
Travelling fans’ hearts skipped a beat in the 67th minute when Chris Nolan found the net for Colm Bonnar’s charges. However, the ‘goal’ was disallowed because of a thrown pass by Martin Kavanagh. Two untypical late misses from scoreable frees by Denis Murphy were also slices of luck for Westmeath before Killian Doyle’s fourth point from play sealed a hard-earned, but deserved, win on a scoreline of 0-19 to 0-15.