Landslide victory over Westmeath earns Tipperary their first points of National Hurling League

Eamonn Wynne


Eamonn Wynne


Jason Forde

Jason Forde scored 14 points when Tipperary beat Westmeath in the Allianz National Hurling League at Semple Stadium

Tipperary 3-27 Westmeath 0-16

An Allianz National Hurling League game against Westmeath in front of an attendance of 2436 on a bright but chilly afternoon in February is a world away from All-Ireland Final day in Croke Park.
But it was good enough for Tipperary to record their first victory since lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup last August when they collected their first points of the league campaign at Semple Stadium this afternoon, Sunday.
After defeats under lights by Limerick and Cork, this was Tipperary's first excursion into daylight hurling this year in a game switched from Nenagh to Thurles 24 hours previously.
Tipp's first league victory over Westmeath since 1957 was achieved with little fuss. By half-time they were comfortably in control, leading by 2-14 to 0-7 having played with the backing of the light breeze.
They were ahead by 0-6 to 0-3 when Westmeath goalie Aaron McHugh was put under pressure by Seamus Callanan and his short, scuffed clearance was collected by Cian Darcy, who shot the opening goal after 16 minutes.
Westmeath's resistance had been spirited in the early stages and they came close to grabbing the opening goal when Killian Doyle's low shot was brilliantly saved by Brian Hogan after six minutes. But as the game started to open up and more space started to appear, Tipp began to move through the gears.
The second goal arrived in the 27th minute when Cian Darcy, despite being hooked, played a pass to the unmarked Jake Morris, who had no trouble stroking the ball home.
The first half ended with a brilliant sideline cut from all of 47 yards from Jason Forde, who scored nine points in the first half and ended the game with 14 points.
Behind by 13 points at the break, Westmeath's task became even tougher five minutes into the second half when one of their best players, freetaker Killian Doyle, was dismissed on a straight red card for an off the ball foul on Sean O'Brien.
Not surprisingly , the rest of the game was little more than a procession. Liam Sheedy shuffled his pack and Noel McGrath made his first appearance of the year when he replaced Sean O'Brien in the 48th minute and, slotting into the half-back line, he was his usual, assured self.
With six minutes of normal time remaining Jason Forde fired a low shot just wide when he had a chance of a point. But Tipp didn't have to wait long for their third goal, which came from Seamus Callanan when he fired home from a tight angle in the second minute of added time, after he had been teed up by Ronan Maher, to round off a comprehensive victory.
Ronan Maher, who scored three points from play, as well as Barry Heffernan and Bryan O'Mara, impressed in defence. Alan Flynn and Michael Breen were willing workers in midfield while top scorer Jason Forde, along with Jake Morris and Cian Darcy, showed the way in attack.
Tipperary: Brian Hogan, Cathal Barrett, Barry Heffernan, Sean O'Brien, Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher (0-3), Bryan O'Mara, Alan Flynn (0-2), Michael Breen (0-2), Jason Forde (0-14, 9 frees and 1 sideline), Seamus Callanan (1-1), Niall O'Meara, Cian Darcy (1-1), Jake Morris (1-3) and Mark Kehoe (0-1).
Substitutes: Craig Morgan for Cathal Barrett (44 minutes), Noel McGrath for Sean O'Brien (48 minutes), Dillon Quirke for Mark Kehoe (48 minutes), Paul Flynn for Niall O'Meara (56 minutes) and Paddy Cadell for Seamus Kennedy (66 minutes).
Westmeath: Aaron McHugh, Conor Shaw, Tommy Doyle, Adam Ennis, Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke (0-1), Liam Varley, Cormac Boyle, Josh Coll, Joey Boyle, Derek McNicholas (0-2), Robbie Greville, Niall Mitchell, Allan Devine (0-5 frees) and Killian Doyle (0-7, 6 frees and 1 sideline).
Substitutes: Ciaran Doyle (0-1) for Josh Coll (23 minutes), Brian McHugh for Aaron McHugh (half-time), Darragh Clinton for Joey Boyle (48 minutes), Dara Egerton for Adam Ennis (58 minutes) and John McCarthy for Niall Mitchell (62 minutes).
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).

For more Tipperary sport read Cashel Community School win Munster Senior Hurling Colleges B championship final