Antrim looking over their shoulder after meltdown in Mullingar

Allianz NFL Div.3

Westmeath 4-27 Antrim 0-08

Antrim were left looking nervously over their shoulder after a meltdown performance against Westmeath in Mullingar on Sunday which sees them with just two points after five games with only Tipperary and Longford below them in the table.

The Saffrons simply never got going as they went into this game with an ever increasing injury list which saw Marc Jordan the latest to miss out and never managed to raise a gallop over the hour and it took 21 minutes for Pat Shivers to raise their first flag by which time Westmeath had registered 1-6 and were in total control.

The Lake County kept in contention for promotion to Division 2 with a surprisingly facile win against a very disappointing Antrim and a 31-point winning margin did not flatter them, following two wins and two narrow defeats from their first four games.

Westmeath totally dominated the first half despite Antrim having the aid of a slight wind. John Heslin scored the first five scores of the game by the 16th minute, his 1-04 consisting of three converted frees and 1-01 from play. The goal was finished under pressure from close range on 12 minutes after good work by Ronan O’Toole and Senan Baker.

The home team led by 1-06 to 0-00 when Antrim pounced for their opening two points courtesy of Pat Shivers and Odhran Eastwood. Heslin replied with two more frees at the other end before Sam Duncan teed up Baker, the son of Clare hurling legend Ollie, who scored a great solo goal in the 28th minute.

Conor Stewart kicked Antrim’s third point but with Luke Loughlin in fine form and Heslin bringing his first half tally to 1-09, Westmeath led by 2-12 to 0-03 at the interval.

Dessie Dolan’s charges scored their third goal just 15 seconds after the resumption of play after Heslin picked out David Lynch who found the net in style.

The one-way traffic continued throughout the second half with O’Toole dictating play in the forward line, scoring four points in the process.

Andy McEntee’s quite simply never got going and looked a pale shadow of the side who lost narrowly to Down in Newry and to Fermanagh last day out at Corrigan Park. The visitors constantly gave the ball away with at least six of Westmeath’s first half scores coming as a result of turnovers.

Westmeath’s fourth goal came in the 68th minute when O’Toole played in Sam McCartan and he fired past Mick Byrne to put the icing on an excellent hour’s work by the home side.

Shane Dempsey came off the bench to score three very good late points, while John Heslin went on to top score with an impressive 1-12 in what turned out to be an embarrassingly one sided contest for the Saffrons.

Antrim have league leaders Cavan at home in two weeks-time before travelling to Longford for a game that might well decide their division 3 fate and they will hope to have some of their walking wounded back for those games.

Westmeath: J Daly; D Scahill, K Maguire, N Harte; J Dolan (0-01), R Wallace, S McCartan (1-02); S Duncan (0-01), R Connellan; S Baker (1-00), R O’Toole (0-04), C McCormack; L Loughlin (0-02), J Heslin (1-12, 8f), D Lynch (1-00).

Subs: T Molloy (0-02) for Connellan (43), A McGivney for Scahill (55), L Dolan for Baker (56), D Giles for Harte (57), S Dempsey (0-03) for McCormack (60).

Antrim: M Byrne; E McCabe, O Lenehan, J McAuley; P Healy, J Finnegan, S O’Neill; K Small, C Stewart (0-01); P Finnegan, R A McCann, C McLarnon; P Shivers (0-04, 2f), R McCann (0-01), O Eastwood (0-02, 1f).

Subs: S McGarry for Finnegan (ht), D McEnhill for R A McCann (ht), P Mervyn for Healy (ht), P McCormick for O’Neill (48), J Dowling for Stewart (58).

Ref: A Nolan (Wicklow).

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