O'Brien the hero for Westmeath
All-Ireland MHC 'B' Final
NIALL O'Brien scored 2-7 as he spearheaded Westmeath title in a thrilling encounter at Pairc Tailteann, Navan, on Saturday.
The corner-forward struck for goals in the 11th and 26th minutes as the Lake County recovered from a two-point deficit to lead 2-4 to 0-8 at the half-time break.
O'Brien had a chance to complete his hat-trick within a minute of the restart, but blasted a penalty over the bar.
Three points in a four-minute spell left Kildare level by the 36th minute. However, the Lilywhites then went 21 minutes without a score as Westmeath, inspired by centre-back Anthony Price and O'Brien, gradually took control of the game.
Price ended with three points and was one of only three contributors to the Lake County's tally.
Westmeath went seven points clear in the final quarter before Kildare staged a late rally which made for an exciting finale.
Jonathan Byrne pointed and then full-forward Kevin Connor found the net on 59 minutes to leave just a goal between the sides at the finish.
SCORERS -- Westmeath: N O'Brien 2-7 (0-5f, 0-1p), A Price 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1 65), A Clarke 0-2. Kildare: M Delaney 0-3f, J Byrne 0-3 (0-1f, 0-2 '65'), K Connor 1-0, C Kenny (0-1f), F Conway 0-2 each, D Farrell, G Keegan 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH -- N Kelly; T Gallagher, T Doyle, D Garvin; K Reilly, A Price, P Layde; A Craig, S Fagan; E Kincaid, D Gavin, D Higgins; N O'Brien, A Clarke, N Kirby. Subs: J Boyle for Gavin (41), D McDermott for Layde (54).
KILDARE -- C Gallagher; S O'Flynn, L McDonagh, K Whelan; M Carter, J Byrne, D Farrell; G Farrell, F Conway; M Delaney, C Kenny, G Keegan; C O'Hehir, K Connor, D Flaherty. Subs: S Gainey for O'Flynn (h/t).
REF -- F Smith (Meath).