Westmeath 0-14 Galway 0-13
A well-taken point from midfielder Paul Bannon in the fifth minute of injury-time earned Westmeath a shock, but deserved, win in Mullingar yesterday to give the midlanders their first points of the campaign.
Galway had wind advantage in the first half but were quite fortunate to be on level terms (0-6 each) at the break. The standard of football was often poor, but Westmeath played with great determination as they took the game to the hot favourites.
Teenage midfielder John Heslin -- just back from a stint with Richmond Tigers in Australia -- was on form from frees but his colleagues wasted a number of good chances from open play, particularly a glorious opportunity of a goal which fell to Ger Egan in the 22nd minute. The centre-forward slapped the ball wide from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Galway relied on Michael Martin from placed balls to keep in touch as their new-look team failed to gel to any great degree.
Corner-forward Danny Cummins was denied a goal in the 29th minute by a fabulous save from Westmeath 'keeper Gary Connaughton, who acrobatically clawed the ball back when seemingly beaten by Cummins' palmed effort from point-blank range.
There was never more than two points between the sides and the tit-for-tat scoring continued on the change of ends. Damien Burke's introduction for the second half strengthened the westerners' forward division but Westmeath doggedly hung in, with Kieran Gavin prominent in defence.
However, Alan Mulholland's charges looked set to take maximum points when they led by 0-13 to 0-11 with three minutes of normal time remaining. The home team then dug deep and with late subs Callum McCormack and Denis Glennon improving their attack, Pat Flanagan's men fired over three unanswered points.
Glennon appeared to take the wrong option when he opted to take a point after bearing down on goal, but Heslin's seventh free levelled the contest in the first minute of added-time.
The momentum was now with the home team and Bannon's dramatic late winner brought the home supporters to their feet.
Man of the Match: K Gavin (Westmeath)
Scorers -- Westmeath: J Heslin 0-7f, P Sharry, P Bannon, G Egan, P Sheridan, David Glennon, C McCormack, Denis Glennon 0-1 each. Galway: M Martin 0-4f, P Conroy, D Cummins 0-2 each, K McGrath, N Coleman, C Doherty, M Hehir (1f), S Armstrong 0-1 each.
Westmeath -- G Connaughton 7; M Curley 6, K Gavin 8, K Maguire 7; D McDermott 7, P Sharry 7, A Finnan 6; J Heslin 7, P Bannon 6; K Martin 6, G Egan 6, P Sheridan 6; A Giles 5, M Ennis 6, David Glennon 6. Subs: C McCormack 7 for Sheridan (55), Denis Glennon 7 for Giles (56).
Galway -- M Breathnach 6; K McGrath 6, F Hanley 6, K Kelly 6; G Bradshaw 5, J Duane 6, G Sice 6; N Coleman 7, J Bergin 6; C Doherty 6, P Conroy 7, M Hehir 6; M Martin 6, N Joyce 4, D Cummins 7. Subs: D Burke 7 for Joyce (h-t), G Higgins 6 for Martin (48), S Armstrong 7 for Hehir (50), G O'Donnell 6 for Bergin (57).
Ref -- D Gough (Meath).