Devine inspiration seals Westmeath's final place
Westmeath 2-19 Antrim 1-20 - Joe McDonagh Cup
Westmeath booked their place in the inaugural final of this competition with a hard-earned win over Antrim in Mullingar on Saturday.
There was very little between the teams in the early stages and Antrim led by 0-6 to 0-3 when Westmeath pounced for an opportunist goal, with Ciaran Doyle finding the net in the 14th minute to level the tie.
Paul Greville was lording the exchanges at the heart of the home defence and his side led by four points (1-10 to 0-9) when Niall O'Brien scored a classy goal in the 33rd minute, after being teed up by the outstanding Liam Varley. Westmeath went on to lead by 2-12 to 0-10 at the break.
Antrim came right back into it by scoring an unanswered 1-6 in the third quarter. The goal was scored by sub Keelan Molloy in the 48th minute and, with Neil McManus unerring from frees, Antrim seemed set for a vital win.
However, Westmeath regained their composure and Allan Devine opened their second-half account from open play in the 55th minute.
McManus had a chance to level from a difficult free in the second minute of added-time, but the ball tailed wide.
Westmeath, who ended an enthralling contest with 14 men, with Brendan Doyle having picked up a second yellow in the 66th minute, sealed the win with Devine's third successful '65'.
Scorers - Westmeath: A Devine 0-7 (3f, 3'65'), C Doyle, N O'Brien 1-2 each, N Mitchell 0-3, L Varley 0-2, A Clarke, P Greville, R Greville 0-1 each Antrim: N McManus 0-13 (7f), K Molloy 1-0, C McCann 0-2, C Johnston, E Campbell, J Dillon, P Burke, N Elliott 0-1 each.
Westmeath - P Carroll 6; S Power 7, T Doyle 7, B Doyle 5; L Varley 8, P Greville 8, D McNicholas 6; E Price 7, J Boyle 7; A Clarke 6, R Greville 6, N O'Brien 7; A Devine 7, N Mitchell 7, C Doyle 6. Subs: J Gilligan 5 for Boyle (56), D Clinton 6 for C Doyle (60).
Antrim - R Elliott 6; A Graffin 5, J Dillon 6, C McKinley 6; S McCrory 7, P Burke 7, D Kearney 6; J McNaughton 7, E Campbell 7; C McCann 7, N McManus 8, N Elliott 6; E McCloskey 5, C Johnston 7, C Clarke 6. Subs: K Molloy 7 for McCloskey (h-t), D McKinley 7 for McNaughton (45), D McCloskey n/r for N Elliott (69).
Ref - R McGann (Clare)