Éamon Óg Ó Donnchadha (Meath) and Conor Gaffney (Westmeath)Photo: David Mullen/www.cyberimages.net

Disastrous second-half performance confirms Royal's relegation

Meath only scored one point in the second half as as avoidence of being relegated back down to the Christy Ring following a heavy defeat at the hands of Westmeath is now impossible.

Westmeath 1-29

Meath 0-14

The old cliché of ‘a game of two halves’ was certainly evident but in an unusual manner in Meath’s round 4 clash with Westmeath at Cusack Park, Mullingar. The opening 35 minutes was fast-paced, energy-filled quality hurling. It was an exhibition of hurling that the Joe McDonagh competition doesn’t see often. Unfortunately, what transpired in the second half was nothing short of abysmal. Westmeath’s second-half performance was a mere shadow of their quality first-half showing and yet they went from being only three points up at halftime to eventually winning the contest by a massive 18 points. If that doesn’t paint a clear enough picture of the Royals' second-half display, a tally of a single point in 35 minutes along with a total tally of 17 wides in the contest, 11 of which came in the second 35 minutes, tells you all you need to know. The result means that Meath be back playing Christy Ring hurling in 2025.

Westmeath got off to a flying start with a point courtesy of David Williams after only 17 seconds. Westmeath’s other corner forward, David O’Reilly, followed this up with two scores in quick succession as the men in maroon took an early three-point lead. Nicky Potterton got Meath off the mark with a pointed free after five minutes. Potterton followed that up with another free from the opposite side of his first. However, Westmeath responded with another O’Reilly point. Killian Doyle and Tom Shine traded scores before O’Reilly restored Westmeath’s three-point lead with his fourth score in the opening 10 minutes.

Simon Ennis got a wonderful score from distance however a few moments later Westmeath’s full-back Tommy Doyle outdid Ennis with a fantastic score from a mile out. Meath’s other wing back Kris Gorman provided the Royal's next score. Potterton reduced the gap back to a single point and almost immediately James Murray got two scores in quick succession as Meath hit the front in a good spell for the Royals.

Meath didn’t hold the lead for long as Peter Clarke sent one over from a tight angle. Doyle sent over Westmeath’s first point from a placed ball. A beautiful backhanded pass from Nicky Potterton set up James Murray who once again levelled the affair with a good score. Points from Robbie Greville, Killian Doyle and Aonghus Clarke gave Westmeath some breathing space. Doyle and Shine traded scores as we entered the final ten minutes of the half. Eamon O Donnachada added his name to the scoresheet before Robbie Greville cancelled out O Donnachada’s score. Kris Gorman finished off a fantastic Meath move to secure his second point and reduce the gap back to three once again.

David Williams added to Westmeath's tally before James Kelly’s long-range strike bounced in front of Westmeath’s keeper Noel Conaty and over the bar in the last piece of action of the opening 35 minutes. Westmeath went in at the break holding a three-point advantage of 0-16 to 0-13.

The first half was played at a ferocious pace. Westmeath probably deserved a halftime lead but in fairness to the Royals, they were taking the game to the men in maroon. Kris Gorman at wing-back was having a phenomenal game and Tom Shine was having a great time of it at centre-forward. Westmeath’s David O’Reilly looked like he could dominate proceedings early on but the Meath defence quickly adapted to nullify the Castletown Geoghegan’s influence. Meath's hopes of being able to survive relegation were still alive at half time. It wasn't long though before those hopes were firmly shattered.

Doyle got the scoring underway for Westmeath in the second-half. Eoin McCabe extended Westmeath’s lead to five. Killian Doyle tried a short-range lob over the head of Charlie Ennis but Ennis got back to his line just in time to bat the sliotar away. Points from Williams, O’Reilly and Clinton put Westmeath into a comfortable position in the contest. Meath started the second 35 minutes with five wides in a row. Eventually, on the 50th-minute marker, Sean Geraghty got Meath's second-half tally off the mark. This would be Meath's last time to raise a flag in the contest.

Meath's slim hopes were dashed when David O’Reilly set up Darragh Clinton with a clever lob across the goal mouth for the Westmeath full forward to finish to the back of the net.

Two points for Doyle, one from a 65’ and one from play extended Westmeath's advantage to 12. Potterons failed deadball attempt in the 22nd minute brought Meath's wide tally to 15 in total as Meath continued to lack accuracy in front of goal in the second half. Doyle tagged on another score to extend the gap to 13 before Peter Clarke secured his second point BEFORE Darragh Clinton brought his tally to 1-3. Westmeath were starting to cruise to the finish line.

Eamon O Donnchada had a chance for a late consolation goal but Noal Conaty did well to deny. Charlie Ennis produced a wonderful fill stretch save to deny David Williams. Darragh Clinton had the last say in the contest with the final score. Another heavy defeat for the Royals in the Joe McDonagh.

At halftime, The Royals were going toe to toe with a Westmeath side that were playing well above the level which they had been up to this point in the competition. However, a brutal second-half performance sees Meath confirmed as relegated out of the Joe McDonagh and back into the Christy Ring.


Meath – Nicky Potterton 0-3 three frees; James Murray 0-3; Tom Shine 0-2; Kris Gorman 0-2; James Kelly 0-1; Simon Ennis 0-1; Sean Geraghty 0-1; Eamon O Donnchadha 0-1.

Westmeath – Killian Doyle 0-8 three frees; Darragh Clinton 1-4; David O’Reilly 0-6; David Williams 0-4; Robbie Greville 0-2; Peter Clarke 0-2; Tommy Doyle 0-1; Aonghus Clarke 0-1; Owen McCabe 0-1.

Meath – Charlie Ennis; Michael Burke, Shane Whitty, Dara Shine; Simon Ennis, James Kelly, Kris Gorman; Sean Geraghty, Niall McLarnon; James Murray, Tom Shine, Mark Horan; Sean Quigley, Eamon O Donnchadha, Nicholas Potterton. Subs – Ronan Byrne for McLarnon HT, Damien Healy for Ennis 50m, David Murtagh for Quigley 57m, Seàn Martin for Horan 60m, Ethan Devine for Geraghty 62m.

Offaly – Noel Conaty; Connor Gaffney, Tommy Doyle, Johnny Bermingham; Darragh Egerton, Aonghus Clarke, Charlie McCormack; Peter Clarke, Kevin Regan; Owen McCabe, Killian Doyle, Robbie Greville; David Williams, Darragh Clinton, David O’Reilly. Subs – Niall Mitchell for McCormack 38m, Eoin Keyes for K Doyle 61m, Aaron Craig for Egerton 69m, Ciaran Doyle for McCabe 70m.

Referee – James Clarke (Cavan)