A fortuitous goal from a free by Roscommon's Cathal Shine proved to be the turning point in Athlone as the home side qualified for the quarter-final with a 10-point win over IT Carlow.
Four successful frees from Wexford's Ben Brosnan had the visitors ahead 0-4 to 0-2 when Shine's 50-metre free was fumbled into his own net by Tom Hughes.
IT Carlow were then reduced to 14 men when Joe Kinahan saw red. Athlone took control and points from Ger Egan (2f), Frank Burke and Shine had them 1-6 to 0-4 ahead at the break. Westmeath U-21 Alan Coffey scored four points from play in the second half and the hosts maintained their dominance.
With a pair of Westmeath seniors, Kieran Martin and Ger Egan, outstanding at centre half-back and centre half- forward respectively, the home team was never in the slightest danger of being overtaken.
However, the winners suffered a late blow when John Mulligan was sent off in the closing moments.
Scorers – Athlone IT: C Shine 1-2 (1-0f), A Coffey 0-5, G Egan 0-3 (2f), J Mulligan, J McGivney, F Burke 0-1 each. IT Carlow: B Brosnan 0-4 (4f), E Walsh, B Hurley 0-1 each.
Athlone IT – G Connaughton; E Kerins, K Clarke, C O'Brien; T Rahill, K Martin, L Murphy; C Duggan, C Shine; J Mulligan, G Egan, A Coffey; J McGivney, J Dolan, F Burke. Subs: D Maleady for Murphy (53), P Masterson for Burke (55), A Stone for McGivney (60).
IT Carlow – T Hughes; J Kinahan, C Lawlor, A Nolan; A Forde, B Kinahan, E Walsh; R Downey, C Boyle; D Hayden, C Reynolds, M Mangan; S Gannon, B Hurley, B Brosnan. Subs: F Conway for Reynolds (42), P Brogan for Gannon (49), D Mulhall for Mangan (52), F O'Bearra for Hurley (60).
Ref – M Duffy (Sligo).