Westmeath 2-12 Mayo 0-21
Mayo were put to the pin of their collar before overcoming a plucky Westmeath outfit in a very entertaining Allianz Football League Division 2 North contest played in showery conditions in Mullingar on Saturday afternoon.
Westmeath got off to a dream start when an alert Luke Loughlin goaled in the second minute after Ronan O'Toole's point attempt had come back off the upright. The home team looked the better side in the early exchanges, but Mayo were on level terms (0-4 to 1-1) by the first water break.
Mayo led by a point (0-7 to 1-3) when a great Westmeath counterattack in the 27th minute ended with Ronan Wallace being fouled close to goal. Diarmuid O'Connor was black-carded and John Heslin superbly netted from the ensuing spot kick. At the break, Westmeath deservedly led by 2-5 to 0-10.
Scores were at a premium during the third quarter and the Connacht champions were ahead by 0-13 to 2-6 at the second water break. Mayo improved by bringing on some high-powered subs as the second half progressed, as they found it difficult to shake off the home team.
Their lead was four points (0-17 to 2-7) before Loughlin kicked two outstanding 45s to halve the deficit, the first of these coming after sub Brandon Kelly had been denied a goal by Rob Hennelly.
There was just a point in it (0-19 to 2-12) with 70 minutes elapsed, but an injury-time brace from O'Connor, including his only score from open play, either side of Ray Connellan being black-carded, ensured a hard-earned three-point win for James Horan's charges.
WESTMEATH: J Daly; J Dolan, K Maguire, B Sayeh; D Lynch, R Wallace, J Gonoud; S Duncan, R Connellan (0-1); S McCartan, R O'Toole (0-1, mark), D Corroon; G Egan (0-1), J Heslin (1-6, 1-0 pen, four frees), L Loughlin (1-2, two 45s).
Subs: F Ayorinde for Corroon (45 mins), B Kelly for Duncan (52), C Slevin for Lynch (63), K Martin (0-1) for McCartan (66), T McDaniel for Egan (69).
MAYO: R Hennelly; B Doyle, O Mullin, L Keegan; M Plunkett, P Durcan (0-2), E McLaughlin (0-1); M Ruane (0-3), D O'Connor; F McDonagh, C Loftus (0-2), J Flynn (0-1); T Conroy (0-1), C O'Connor (0-8, seven frees), R O'Donoghue (0-1, mark).
Subs: K McLoughlin (0-1) for Flynn, B Walsh (0-1) for McDonagh, C Boyle for Doyle (all half-time), J Carr for Loftus (52 mins), R Brickenden for McLaughlin (59 mins), J Carney for D O'Connor (69 mins).
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).