It started well for the Royal County, with Shane McInerney tapping over 0-3 on the trot to get this final under way, but Westmeath were quick to respond. Barney Healy and James Stones each hit frees to open the Westmeath ledger and narrow the gap to the barest of margins.
Westmeath pulled level on Dermot Kenny’s first point. Kenny, the diminutive corner forward, caused problems all day long with his speed and skill that Meath could never solve. Kenny struck again almost immediately, finishing to the net after Barney Healy’s clever flick pass. Meath came right back at them and were only denied a goal by keeper Paddy Donoghue’s fine effort.
Meath were more successful on their next attempt to breech Donaghue’s goal, and it was McInnerney who found the target. Meath looked to build on their momentum and pushed ahead on a point from midfielder John Smyth with ten minutes still to play in the first half. Westmeath introduced Kieran Traynor into the fray to bolster their chances and soon leveled from another Kenny free.
Westmeath looked set to go out front but James Stones was robbed by Meath keeper Ciaran Gaughan when a goal seemed certain. Moments later it was all tied up once again when their talented full forward Brian Newman fired over the lathe. The half ended 1-7 to 1-6, leaving it all to play for in the final 30 minutes.
The second looked set up for plenty of fireworks when Newman fisted over in heavy traffic to equalize in the opening minute. But then Westmeath got on top and slowly pulled away. Points from Murtagh, Kenny, and Barney Healy were interrupted only by a single Meath score off the boot of Newman.
At the 15-minute mark with Westmeath leading 1-10 to 1-8, a melee broke out that ended up seeing Barney Healy of Westmeath and John Smyth of Meath being shown the line. Westmeath emerged after the stoppage with yet another point from Kenny and then got a big goal from Murtagh off a fine through ball from Stones.
As effective as Kenny up front, was Colm Collison in the backs. The lively wingback was a constant source of frustration to his opponents, nipping in for numerous interceptions and relishing any chance to attack.
After Murtagh’s goal, it was all Westmeath en route to an impressive Championship victory that earns Westmeath’s promotion to the Junior “A” ranks.
Man of the Match: Dermot Kenny
Westmeath: Paddy Donoghue, Ray Reynolds, Tom Claffey, Andy Gillivan, Ronan Tuffy, Peter Dalton, Colm Collison (0-1), Ronan Fagan (0-1), John Madden, Alaine Baile, Ger Reilly, Barney Healy (0-2, 1 free), James Stones (0-1, free), John Murtagh (1-1), Dermot Kenny (1-8, 4 frees).
Meath: Ciaran Gaughan, Paddy Melligan, Seamus Banin, Anthony Gaughan, Andy O’Grady, Jamie Shaw, Ollie O’Brien, John Murphy, John Smyth (0-1), Aiden Kiely, Shane McInerney (1-4, 4 frees), Davy Dunne (0-1), Sean Coffey, Brian Newman (0-3), Steven Kane.