Westmeath are now almost certainly assured of promotion up to Division I of the Allianz Football League following a stirring victory over Wexford in Wexford Park on Monday.
Pat Flanagan’s side remain unbeaten in Division II, and preserved that record against the Model County despite trailing in the south east for long stages. In the end, a red card and a penalty proved crucial for Westmeath. They scored two in the final six minutes, to kill off Wexford, who had fought bravely after Dathai Waters was sent off in the 41st minute. A very disputed event with supporters claiming that neither the Ref or the linsman saw what happened but their attention was called by Westmeath officials to a player on the ground.
However Wexford’s plight was finally doomed when veteran substitute Dessie Dolan was awarded a penalty. Another controversial decision but Wexford fought on till their legs gave in and Westmeath took control from there to the end to turn a five point deficit into an eight point win.
Wexford took an early 0-2 to 0-1 lead, but Ciarán Curley’s goal after seven minutes, following a fine pass from the outstanding John Heslin, put Westmeath ahead. Wexford recovered really well from this early blow though, and edged back in front by the midway point of the first half following two frees from Ben Brosnan.
They extended the lead to 0-11 to 1-6 by half-time, following another sublime free from Brosnan. They were soon five points ahead after the restart, but the sending off of Waters seriously checked their momentum.
Dessie Dolan and Paul Sharry came on for Westmeath after the red card, and Dolan made an immediate impact, winning a penalty which Heslin tucked away with aplomb. That left just one in it, but Wexford got a couple of scores, and were two up again with seven minutes left.
Westmeath’s third goal, from Denis Glennon on 64 minutes, put them one ahead, and Wexford just ran out of steam against the extra man in the closing stages as Westmeath now with the game won kicked over scores one after the other. Callum McCormack, Sharry and Heslin all kicked points, before Glennon grabbed his second goal in the closing stages to seal an eight-point win. A very flattering scoreline indeed.
Wexford had played some lovely attacking football with fast low ball into speedy forwards who all looked sharp. Ben kicked some fantastic free from the ground and the result was was certainly not justice for their efforts.
Next up for Wexford is a trip to Pearse Stadium, Galway where they play as the curtain raiser of a double header with the Galway and Cork hurlers. Throw in is at the very early time of 12.45 so follow @officialWexGAA on twitter for know how the game is progressing.