McCormack takes Wee bit of revenge
Westmeath 1-15 Louth 0-12
ALL-IRELAND SFC QUALIFIER
A late flurry of scores from an otherwise lethargic Westmeath side secured revenge for their Leinster championship defeat by Louth six weeks earlier.
An understrength Louth were also short the services of their hospitalised manager Peter Fitzpatrick -- selector Gerry Cumiskey wore the bainisteoir's bib on the day -- and their cause looked entirely lost when they faced the second half with just 13 men and due to play against the wind.
However, they did get a fillip close to the end when Westmeath were reduced to 14 men.
Straight red cards had been issued on the advice of the linesmen to captain Mark Brennan in the 25th minute -- following an off-the-ball clash with John Heslin -- and free-taker Darren Clarke on the stroke of half-time after he pulled Doran Harte to his feet, clearly claiming that his initial contact with the Westmeath defender had been minimal.
Louth led by 0-7 to 0-5 at the break, having played a bit more of the limited quality football on display in the opening half, with Clarke and Heslin -- who, despite Paddy Keenan's absence for Louth -- struggled to impose himself in midfield just 11 days after keyhole surgery.
The main marksmen shared seven points from placed balls. Scores from open play were at a premium in the first half, Westmeath's Ger Egan rifling over two, while the pick of Louth's points came from Aaron Hoey on the quarter-hour mark.
Louth should have increased their advantage within a minute of the resumption, but a quickly-taken free close to the Westmeath goal backfired and the very impressive half-time substitute Callum McCormack halved the deficit almost immediately at the other end. Points followed from Denis Glennon, McCormack again and Heslin (another free) to put the home team two points ahead and seemingly on the way to a comfortable win.
However, Louth, whose spirit was best exemplified by attacking half-back Ray Finnegan, refused to throw in the towel and they were on level terms -- 0-11 each -- by the 61st minute of the game.
Two minutes later, midfielder Heslin was dismissed after picking up a second yellow card and at that point a Louth victory looked a distinct possibility before Westmeath struck for the decisive goal from McCormack in the 65th minute.
It was a well-worked score, with an intuitive long ball from Ger Egan -- who rivalled McCormack for the Man of the Match accolade -- being superbly fielded by Denis Glennon, whose lay-off to McCormack was outstanding and he did the rest.
Pat Flanagan's charges quickly added four unanswered points and a as a result a converted free from Jim McEneaney in injury-time was merely a consolation score for a plucky Wee County.
SCORERS -- Westmeath: C McCormack 1-3, J Heslin (4f) and G Egan 0-4 each, Denis Glennon 0-3 (1f), J Dolan 0-1. Louth: D Clarke 0-4 (4f), J McEneaney 0-3 (3f), D Byrne, D Crilly, JP Rooney, A Hoey and R Finnegan 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH -- D Quinn 6; M McCallon 6, J Gaffey 6, K Maguire 6; D Harte 6, P Sharry 7, D McDermott 5; J Heslin 6, P Bannon 6; K Martin 7, David Glennon 6, G Egan 7; M Ennis 5, J Dolan 6, Denis Glennon 6. Subs: C McCormack 8 for McDermott (h/t), D Corroon 5 for Ennis (49).
LOUTH -- N Gallagher 6; P Rath 6, D Finnegan 6, G Hoey 6; R Finnegan 8, M Fanning 6, D Byrne 6; J McEneaney 7, M Brennan 5; A Reid 6, A Hoey 6, D Reid 5; D Crilly 6, JP Rooney 6, D Clarke 6. Subs: J Carr 6 for D Reid (h/t), D Collier 5 for Hoey (inj, 53), R Moore 6 for Rooney (57), D O'Connor for Fanning (67), D McComish for R Finnegan (68).
REF -- D Fahy (Longford)