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Westmeath breeze overtakes hapless Offaly in lukewarm Tailteann Cup semi-final

WESTMEATH 3-22 OFFALY 2-16

Anyone calling this Tailteann Cup semi-final at Croke Park a high-scoring thriller might want to have their heads examined.

Offaly simply didn’t show up and Westmeath scored at will in a game with almost zero intensity.

The fact that Westmeath goalkeeper Jason Daly was not forced to take a long shot until the 65th minute speaks volumes about the intensity of the press from Offaly’s forwards.

Okay, some of the kickouts were conceded which should have set Offaly up nicely at the back, but that never happened.

Westmeath’s 3-22 tally tells you everything you need to know about how this one went.

The Lake Men also didn’t get wide in the second half, despite shooting in the breeze. It tells a story about the pressure put on the shooter.

Offaly was incredibly poor in the first half and played like a side eager to go on holiday or return to their clubs.

They either couldn’t or didn’t want to keep up with the Westmeath runners.

It’s happened over and over again.

The pattern of the match was Westmeath goalkeeper Jason Daly delivering a quick kick to a fullback, who was in acres of space with no pressure.

A few passes later, Westmeath had broken out with usually at least one, and often two, Offaly players not following the runs.

Westmeath would then score or miss.

There were a particularly wacky few minutes before half-time where John Heslin’s goal was on its way but unfortunately hit teammate, Luke Loughlin.

Then James Dolan almost had too much time and tried a shot outside his right, which fell short, when he could have stabilized and got the side foot over the bar.

On the next attack, Ronan O’Toole attempted a pass with his fist, which fell short and hit the post.

It was almost as if Westmeath was slacking off, surprised at how easy it was for them.

Westmeath scored 2-11 with the wind at their back in the first half, but they also had eight wide, were blocked twice and lost an effort.

Bar Anton Sullivan, who played with one goal, shooting two points, and midfielder Jordan Hayes Offaly were incredibly flat.

Whatever the intensity, Westmeath brought it to the table with very strong cornerbacks Jamie Gonoud and Jack Smyth.

Ronan Wallace pushed forward for a first half, with Keith O’Neill struggling to keep up. It was a similar story for Offaly throughout the park.

It was clear the game was over at half-time, and nothing that happened in the second half changed that perception.

WESTMEATH: J Daly, J Smith, K Maguire, J Gonoud, R Wallace (1-0), D Lynch, J Dolan (0-1), J Lynam, R Connellan (0-1), S McCartan (0-3), R O’Toole (0-4), S Duncan, L Loughlin (0-2), J Heslin (0-8, 4fs), L Dolan (2-1).

UNDER : R Forde (0-1) for Duncan 46 mins, G Egan for Lynam 54 mins, A Gardiner (0-1) for L Dolan 63 mins, N Harte for J Dolan 68 mins, K Martin for Loughlin 68 mins,

OFFALY: P Dunican, L Pearson, D Hogan, D Dempsey, R Egan, J Moloney, C Donohoe, C McNamee, J Hayes, B Carroll, R McNamee, A Sullivan (0-2), J Bryant (0-1), N McNamee (0-6, 6fs), K O’Neill (1-2).

UNDER : D Hyland (0-3) for Carroll 22 mins, J Lalor for C McNamee ht, C Flynn (1-0) for Pearson 52 mins, M Abbot (0-1) for Bryant 52 mins, J McEvoy (0-1) for R McNamee 65 minutes,

ARBITRATOR: P Faloon (Bottom)