Late Heslin points cheer 14-man Westmeath
Westmeath 0-16 Louth 2-9:Despite playing with 14 men for over 50 minutes, a spirited Westmeath side eked out what could prove to be a crucial one-point win over Louth in Mullingar yesterday.
In addition to a straight red for Westmeath’s Doron Harte, a far-from-dirty game also yielded 18 yellow cards (12 of them to Louth).
Playing with the aid of the wind in the first half, Louth defender Adrian Reid found the net in the eighth minute despite the best efforts of Gary Connaughton, to add to Jim McEneaney’s point after just 15 seconds. With Ger Egan prominent, Westmeath rallied via two converted frees and the outstanding Callum McCormack pointing from play to reduce the gap to the bare minimum. However, a scrambled goal from Colm Judge in the 19th minute, quickly followed by the sending off of Westmeath wing back Harte, had the home team looking in big trouble. Shane Lennon was proving a real handful for the Westmeath defence and at half-time Louth led by 2-4 to 0-7.
Louth introduced influential midfielder Paddy Keenan for the second half, and a brace of early scores stretched their lead to five points.
Westmeath soon sprung a former All-Star of their own in Dessie Dolan and his influence was quickly apparent in a more cohesive attack, with McCormack, Egan and Denis Glennon also to the fore.
Draw looked likely
Westmeath clawed their way back into contention but were unable to take the lead, and a draw looked a likely outcome with the sides level with five minutes of normal time remaining. However, in the 70th minute, John Heslin coolly pointed a 45-metre free from his hands and he repeated the feat two minutes later.
Louth tried to manufacture a late goal but Shane Lennon’s last-gasp point was insufficient to salvage anything.