Westmeath booked their place in to the 2019 New York GAA intermediate final on Sunday with a 2-18 to 1-8 victory over Manhattan Gaels at Gaelic Park.
Westmeath dominated the second half, scoring 1-10 and holding Gaels to only four points, three of which were from frees.
It was the Gaels, however, who got off to the dream start with an opening minute goal from David Lyncheaun. He received the ball just outside the six-yard box just before turning and firing under the bar while falling backward.
The early goal looked set to hand Manhattan a wave of momentum, but it was Westmeath who roared out of the doldrums to hit five points on the hop. Pearse Loftus (three), Kevin Dunne and Dylan McDermott all pointed for Westmeath before Manhattan’s John Collins made it 0-5 to 1-1 in the 11th minute.
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Eoghan Mulholland and Darren Moore added two quick points for Westmeath in the 12th minute before Kevin Finn scored from a free in the 14th for the Gaels.
A minute later Manhattan looked good for its second goal, but Cathal Brady was quick to get down on Lyncheaun’s close effort. Cathal Compton potted the resulting 45 to make it 0-7 to 1-3.
Manhattan made it 1-4 for their cause in the 20th minute after a quickly taken free from Compton found Gearoid Looney out wide with pace. Looney sent a super ball across to Shay Grimley who finished off the play nicely with a point. Compton gave Manhattan the lead three minutes later in the 23rd minute from a free, but with two minutes remaining in the half, Loftus leveled the sides with a free and Kevin Dunne stepped up from his midfield position to grab a goal in the 29th minute.
What originally looked like a wayward ball to the corner flag was tracked down by Moore, who found Dunne rolling hard down Broadway and hit it high and heavy over the keeper’s head to give Westmeath a 1-8 to 1-5 lead at the break.
The halftime time break did little to stop the Westmeath train from keeping its forward momentum, and within the opening four minutes of the second half, they had five points to make it 1-13 to 1-5.
The scores seemingly came at ease as if Manhattan had yet to retake the Gaelic Park turf from their halftime team talk. Compton and Finn stopped the bleeding momentarily with frees in the 36th and 37th minutes.
Moore made it 1-15 to 1-7 for Westmeath in the 46th minute after he sold his man a dummy. He could’ve sold him the Brooklyn Bridge with that move.
McDermott made sure to finish off Manhattan once and for all with a 48th-minute goal. He picked up the ball in the half-forward line and took the space in front of him before burying low and hard to make it 2-15 to 1-7.
Manhattan mercifully got a point in the 50th minute via Steven Power. It had been 13 minutes since Manhattan’s last score.
McDermott and Loftus rounded out Westmeath’s scoring on the day while Compton’s last-second drop goal attempt just caught enough fingertips to deflect it over the bar.
At the final whittle – Westmeath 2-18, Manhattan Gaels 1-8. Westmeath set up a championship date with Rangers on September 14 at 7:45 p.m.
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