Patrick Sweeney leaves Westmeath languishing in the fog
Galway 2-13 Westmeath 2-12
A blanket of fog, rather than blanket defences, was the only thing which threatened to spoil this excellent contest between neighbours at Cusack Park in Mullingar.
Thankfully, the fog lifted enough for these two sides, both of whom won their opening encounters, to serve up an entertaining encounter with a strong emphasis on attacking football which gave the crowd of 2,673 plenty to enjoy.
Of course, what was missing for the bulk of the fans was a home win or at the very least the draw which they deserved but, in the end, Galway just held on for a victory could be decisive in them ending their four-year stay in the division.
The difference in the end was not the long-range free for an equaliser from John Heslin which came back off the left upright, but rather the contribution of Patrick Sweeney.
Sweeney, who hails from the same Killannin club as new Galway manager Kevin Walsh, was starting a league match for the first time with his twin Cathal at corner-back, and he lit up the show with 1-5 from play.
Westmeath, for all their good work, just did not have anyone to inflict that level of damage on the Tribesmen, but manager Tom Cribbin rightly took a lot of positives from the display.
"They showed great character though, they kept it going right until the end when the questions were asked. We created the opportunities and that ball just didn't go over for us. You need a little bit of luck in these things too," said Cribbin.
Westmeath did well to twice come from five points down in the opening half to go in level at 2-6 apiece with Sweeney finding the net after just a minute.
The Galway defence was struggling to deal with high balls and, in particular, Daragh Daly's ability to knock them down to colleagues and both their goals came from this route, the first after 14 minutes from Ger Egan and the second six minutes from the break by Kieran Martin.
In between, Galway had again forged five in front when Sweeney, after having his effort saved by Darren Quinn, was then fouled by the goalkeeper and Shane Walsh stepped forward to blast the penalty to the net.
Galway brought on Manus Breathnach in goal in the second half and also drafted in full-back Finian Hanley for his first game of the year and this reduced the aerial threat, with Heslin edging Westmeath in front for the only time after 48 minutes.
Sweeney's efforts got Galway back in front and while Heslin reduced the margin to a point in the closing stages his late free from 40 metres tailed left and hit the post.
"There was some good, hard football out there," said Walsh (left). "Westmeath will probably feel they should got a point but at this stage for both camps it is to get guys wanting to win, wanting to be there and performing well."
Man of the Match: Patrick Sweeney
SCORERS - Galway: P Sweeney 1-5; S Walsh 1-0 (1-0 pen), D Cummins 0-3; M Martin 0-1 (1f), A Varley, G O'Donnell, P Varley & S Denvir 0-1 each. Westmeath: J Heslin 0-7 (6f), K Martin 1-1, G Egan 1-0, C McCormack 0-2, L Smyth & D Lynch 0-1 each.
GALWAY - TJ Forde 5; D Kyne 5, C Forde 6, C Sweeney 7; P Varley 6, G Bradshaw 6, G O'Donnell (capt) 6; F O Curraoin 7, T Flynn 6; S Denvir 6, S Walsh 5, E Tierney 5; D Cummins 7, P Sweeney 8, A Varley 6. Subs: M Breathnach 7 for TJ Forde (h-t), E Hoare 6 for Tierney (h-t), F Hanley 7 for C Forde (48), M Martin 6 for Walsh (52), C Mulryan 6 for A Varley (64).
WESTMEATH - D Quinn 7; M McCallon 6, K Maguire 5, J Gilligan 5; J Gonoud 5, K Martin 7, J Dolan 6; K Daly 7, P Sharry 7; C McCormack 7, G Egan (capt) 7, D Daly 7; R Connellan 5, J Heslin 7, L Smyth 6. Subs: D Lynch 7 for Gilligan (22), D Glennon 5 for R Connellan (46), P Holloway 6 for Lynch (55), J Connellan 5 for Smyth (60), D Whelan 6 for Dolan (65), A Coffey 6 for J Connellan (65).
REF - C Reilly (Meath)