Devine intervention proves decisive
Westmeath 4-24 Meath 2-17 (Joe McDonagh Cup)
Westmeath maintained their drive for promotion to the Liam MacCarthy Cup with a comfortable win over Meath in Mullingar.
The best player on show, Aonghus Clarke opened the scoring after just six seconds but a goal from Jack Regan in the third minute gave the visitors a lift.
Meath led by 1-5 to 0-6 after 16 minutes, but an impressive scoring blitz by the wind-assisted home team yielded an unanswered 1-11 - the goal coming from Robbie Greville - between the 17th and 32nd minutes put them firmly in control.
An opportunist goal by Allan Devine in added-time helped them to an interval lead of 2-17 to 1-6.
The second half was often lethargic with Westmeath never looking in the remotest danger of being overturned, albeit it needed fine goalkeeping on a number of occasions from Paddy Carroll (including a great 55th-minute penalty save from Darragh Kelly) to keep Meath at bay.
Michael Ryan's troops pounced for two further goals in the second half via Niall Mitchell in the 48th minute (after a rasping shot by Clarke had come back off the crossbar) and another from Devine just past the hour mark.
Nick Fitzgerald's charges plugged away against the odds, but even a goal from Alan Douglas in the 53rd minute failed to put a significant dent in their opponents' big lead.
Scorers - Westmeath: A Devine 2-2 (0-2fs), A Clarke 0-7, E Price, N O'Brien (2fs) 0-5 each, R Greville 1-1, C Doyle 0-3, N Mitchell 1-0, D McNicholas 0-1. Meath: J Regan 1-2 (0-2fs), A Douglas 1-1, P Conneely (1f), J Kelly, D Kelly (2fs) 0-3 each, C McCabe, M O'Sullivan 0-2 each, S Quigley 0-1.
Westmeath - P Carroll 8; S Power 6, T Doyle 6, G Greville 6; L Varley 6, P Greville 6, D McNicholas 6; E Price 8, C Boyle 6; C Doyle 7, A Clarke 9, A Devine 7; N O'Brien 7, N Mitchell 6, R Greville 7. Subs: A Craig 6 for Varley (50), J Gilligan 6 for McNicholas (54), D Clinton 6 for Boyle (59), J Boyle n/r for C Doyle (65), P Maxwell n/r for Price (68).
Meath - S McGann 6; N Weir 6, S Geraghty 6, D Kelly 7; J Keena 6, D Healy 5, K Keoghan 6; S Quigley 5, S Morris 6; C McCabe 6, J Kelly 7, P Conneely 6; A Douglas 6, C Ó Mealóid 5, J Regan 6. Subs: A Gannon 6 for Quigley (26), P Kelly 6 for Regan (h-t), M O'Sullivan 6 for Ó Mealóid (h-t), S Brennan 6 for Healy (h-t), E Ó Donnchadha 6 for Morris (46).
Ref - C Cunning (Antrim).