Joe McDonagh: Westmeath defeat Meath
Joe McDonagh Cup
WESTMEATH 2-20 MEATH 1-19
By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann
Dual star Luke Loughlin snatched a decisive stoppage time goal for Westmeath for whom third time proved to be lucky in the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Without a win in their two previous outings, the beaten 2018 and 2019 finalists came up with a surging finish in Navan to shrug off a determined Meath who were reduced to 14 men after 54 minutes.
The scores were tied at 1-15 apiece at that stage when attacker Jack Regan was shown red and Westmeath took full advantage, using their extra numbers to overwhelm Meath.
Loughlin, who lined out for the Westmeath footballers in their Leinster championship tie against Dublin earlier this month, hit the all important goal in the 72nd minute.
He capitalised on a long clearance from the Westmeath goalkeeper and fired a shot that crept over the goal line despite being blocked by Meath sub 'keeper Charlie Ennis.
Aonghus Clarke impressed for Westmeath with 0-9 also, including two important points from play mid-way through the second-half that helped tie the game up.
Westmeath will return to action next Saturday against Carlow in Mullingar while Meath will be in Navan again for the visit of Antrim.
It's eight Joe McDonagh Cup outings without a win now for Meath who will have one final opportunity against the Saffrons to end their losing streak in the competition.
Managed by Westmeath man Nick Weir, Meath were generally on top in the first-half though Shane Williams' 12th minute goal for Westmeath ensured they were never far off.
Meath were 0-5 to 0-2 ahead when Lough Lene Gaels man Williams roofed a shoot to the net from close range in the 12th minute, tying it up for the second time.
They were level again at 0-7 to 1-4 but Jack Regan put Meath ahead just before the first water break and the hosts retained that lead from there on.
Meath outscored Westmeath by 1-4 to 0-4 from the water break until half-time with Walsh netting in the 27th minute.
From the neighbouring Navan O'Mahonys club, Walsh got the slightest of touches to a long ball in from Padraic O'Hanrahan and wheeled away in celebration.
That left Meath five points clear and Regan and Stephen Morris added scores but Westmeath points from Cormac Boyle, Clarke and Niall Mitchell left four between them at the interval.
Free-taker O'Hanrahan put Meath five clear early in the second-half but that was as good as it got for the 2019 Christy Ring Cup winners.
Cormac Boyle, Joey Boyle and Clarke were all to the fore as Westmeath surged back into the game before eventually drawing level in the 52nd minute at 1-15 to 1-15.
Meath lost Regan shortly after and Westmeath dominated the final 20 minutes or so to secure a morale boosting win with Loughlin pinching the all important goal.
Scorers for Westmeath: Aonghus Clarke 0-9 (7fs), Luke Loughlin 1-0, Shane Williams 1-0, Cormac Boyle 0-3, Joey Boyle 0-3, Niall Mitchell 0-2, Darragh Clinton 0-1, Robbie Greville 0-1, Alan Cox 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: Padraic O'Hanrahan 0-8 (8fs), Jack Walsh 1-2, Adam Gannon 0-3, Jack Regan 0-3 (2fs), Keith Keoghan 0-1, Alan Douglas 0-1, Stephen Morris 0-1.
WESTMEATH: Eoin Skelly; Conor Shaw, Brendan Doyle, Darragh Egerton; Aaron Craig, Tommy Doyle, Alan Cox; Cormac Boyle, Robbie Greville; Aonghus Clarke, Joey Boyle, Jack Galvin; Shane Williams, Niall Mitchell, Darragh Clinton.
Subs: Luke Loughlin for Galvin 26, Derek McNicholas for Clinton 51, Brendan Murtagh for Williams 63, Eoghan Ahearn for Mitchell 68, Conor Kane for B Doyle 75.
MEATH: Mark McCormack; Mickey Burke, Shane Brennan, Sean Geraghty; Keith Keoghan, Darragh Kelly, Shane Whitty; Padraic O'Hanrahan, Patrick Connelly; Jack Regan, Stephen Morris, Alan Douglas; Adam Gannon, Cathal McCabe, Jack Walsh.
Subs: James Kelly for McCabe h/t, Daithi McGowan for Gannon 45, Damien Healy for Douglas 59, Mark Molloy for Conneely 59, Charlie Ennis for McCormack 62.
REFEREE: Rory McGann (Clare).