Armagh earn opening win over Westmeath

Armagh 0-16 Westmeath 0-11

Armagh saw off Westmeath at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds to kickstart their All-Ireland group stages with a win. Both sides were wasteful in front of the posts, but it was the home side who held the upper hand.

A great score from Sam McCartan got Westmeath off to a perfect start but his effort was cancelled out by a Conor Turbitt free. McCartan added a second and it was Stefan Campbell who levelled things up this time around.

A fisted Tiernan Kelly effort gave the hosts the lead for the first time while Conor O’Neill doubled their advantage. Westmeath got back on level terms in a matter of minutes with points from Ronan O’Toole and Robbie Forde.

Armagh lost O’Neill through injury but did recapture the lead through a breakaway point by Ciaran Mackin. Rory Grugan made it a two-point game with his first of the afternoon, while John Heslin swung over a free at the other end.

An incredible O’Toole score levelled the game, but Armagh edged ahead just before the break. Turbitt knocked over his second free of the day to give Kieran McGeeney’s side a 7-6 lead at the interval.

Armagh stormed out of the traps at the start of the second half with Oisin Conaty (2) and Grugan raising white flags. Andrew Murnin grabbed his first as he reacted quickest when Campbell’s effort hit the post.

Grugan chipped over a first score in 12 minutes make put the Orchard County six-points in front. Kevin Maguire and Luke Loughlin pulled two back for Westmeath before keeper Jason Daly came to the rescue as he denied Conaty a goal with a super stop.

Armagh saw off Westmeath at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds to kickstart their All-Ireland group stages with a win
Photo Credit: John Merry

Grugan and Aidan Nugent tagged on frees before Blaine Hughes was called into action, fantastically turning Stephen Smith’s effort round the post. Maguire and Nugent cancelled each other out as Armagh retained their six-point lead.

Grugan, Armagh’s top scorer on the day with 0-5, split the posts once again while Heslin added another for the visitors. Heslin clipped over his third of the evening as Armagh ran out five-point winners.

Armagh: Blaine Hughes, Barry McCambridge, Aaron McKay, Peter McGrane, Conor O’Neill 0-1, Ciaran Mackin 0-1, Aidan Forker, Tiernan Kelly 0-1, Ben Crealey, Joe McElory, Rory Grugan 0-5 (3f), Stefan Campbell 0-1, Oisin Conaty 0-2, Andrew Murnin 0-1, Conor Turbitt 0-2 (2f). Subs: Greg McCabe for C. O’Neill, Oisin O’Neill for B. Crealey, Jason Duffy for S. Campbell, Aidan Nugent 0-2 (1f) for C. Turbitt, Jarly Og Burns for A. Murnin.

Westmeath: Jason Daly, Jamie Gonoud, Kevin Maguire 0-2, James Dolan, Sam McCartan 0-2, Ronan Wallace, Charlie Drumm, Ray Connellan, Andy McCormack, Jonathan Lynam, Ronan O’Toole 0-2, Conor Dillon, Luke Loughlin 0-1, John Heslin 0-3 (3f), Robbie Forde 0-1. Subs: Matthew Whittaker for C. Dillon, David Lynch for R. Forde, Kieran Martin for J. Gonoud, Stephen Smith for L. Loughlin.