Gilligan gives Westmeath lift-off
Westmeath 1-19 Meath 1-18
A goal from John Gilligan early in the final quarter proved a game-changer as Westmeath kept their promotion hopes firmly on track at Trim on Saturday.
The wing-forward produced a sweet finish after collecting Niall Mitchell's long cross-field delivery to edge his side into a 1-14 to 0-14 lead.
A revitalised Westmeath surged five points clear before a late Meath rally came up short.
Talisman Jack Regan led the comeback with a point, and then a goal from a penalty deep into added time following a foul on Adam Gannon. Regan, who ended with 1-12 for the hosts, had an opportunity to draw the sides level in the final minute, but a free deep inside his own half went narrowly wide.
Meath enjoyed the better of the opening period and led 0-11 to 0-8 at the break.
The visitors upped the tempo in the second-half, with Derek McNicholas and Alan Devine in superb form.
Scorers - Westmeath: D McNicholas (3f), A Devine (3f) 0-4 each, J Gilligan 1-0, N Mitchell, C Doyle 0-3 each, K Doyle 0-2, N O'Brien, R Greville, A Craig 0-1 each. Meath: J Regan 1-12 (1-0 pen, 9f), A Douglas 0-2, J Kelly, J Toher, C O Mealoid, A Gannon 0-1 each.
Westmeath - P Carroll 7; S Power 7, T Doyle 8, C Shaw 6; G Greville 7, P Greville 7, D McNicholas 9; R Greville 7, E Price 7; J Gilligan 7, K Doyle 7, A Devine 8; N O'Brien 6, C Doyle 7, N Mitchell 7. Subs: C Boyle 6 for O'Brien (22), A Craig 7 for Shaw (h-t), D Clinton 6 for K Doyle (44), D Egerton (too late for rating) for Gilligan (67).
Meath - S McGann 7; C Lynch 6, D Kelly 7, N Weir 6; K Keoghan 7, D Healy 7, S Brennan 7; A Forde 7, J Toher 8; J Regan 8, J Kelly 7, C O Mealoid 6; S Quigley 6, A Gannon 7, P Conneely 6. Subs: A Douglas 7 for Quigley (23), C McCabe 6 for O Mealoid (48), S Geraghty 6 for Lynch (54), N Heffernan (too late for rating) for Conneely (64), E Marsh (too late for rating) for Forde (65).
Ref - C Cunning (Antrim)