Limerick 1-6 Westmeath 1-12
Limerick’s dreams of returning to the second tier of the Allianz Leagues for the first time since 2007 took a major blow as Westmeath overcame the Treatymen 1-12 to 1-6 at a rain-drenched TUS Gaelic Grounds on Saturday evening.
Billy’s Lee men led by three points at half-time – 1-5 to 0-5 – with Adrian Enright’s 28th-minute goal proving to be the difference.
However, the hosts only managed to add a further point in the second half – a Josh Ryan free – with Westmeath outscoring Limerick by 1-7 to 0-1 to secure their third league win of the season.
Luke Loughlin’s goal seven minutes after the break had put Seán Ó Cuana’s charges ahead for the first time since the 28th minute, and Westmeath never looked back from there on in.
Coming into Saturday’s game, table-toppers Limerick had beaten Longford, Antrim and Wicklow and lost to Louth, while Westmeath suffered loses to Longford and Louth after early league wins over Laois and Wicklow.
In what was the first league meeting between the two sides since 2017 when the men in maroon were winners in the Gaelic Grounds, both sides were level on three separate occasions in the opening 35 minutes.
Ronan Wallace opened the scoring after four minutes, before Josh Ryan levelled terms in the eight minute and a Josh Ryan free cancelled out a Luke Loughin point to bring the sides level yet again.
However, both sides went 17 minutes without scoring a point from play before a Sam McCartan effort put Westmeath two points ahead 10 minutes before half-time.
The previously lacklustre game burst into life two minutes before the half-hour mark, and boosted by Enright’s raising of the green flag, Limerick scored three of the last four points before the break.
Westmeath were temporarily reduced to 14 when McCartan received a black card in the 33rd minute.
After the restart, Loughlin showcased his soccer skills to find the back of the net in the 42nd minute, putting Westmeath back into front for the first time since Enright’s first-half goal.
A Josh Ryan free 16 minutes from time proved to be Limerick’s last addition to the scoreboard, with Westmeath adding the last five points of the game without response to run out comfortable six-point winners.
LIMERICK: Donal O'Sullivan (capt); Jim Liston, Seán O'Dea, Paul Maher; Cian Sheehan, Iain Corbett (0-1), Killian Ryan; Darragh Treacy, Cillian Fahy; Adrian Enright (1-0), Brian Donovan, James Naughton; Peter Nash, Josh Ryan (0-4, three frees), Hugh Bourke (0-1)
Subs: Robert Childs for Sheehan (half-time), Pádraig De Brun for Fahy, Luke Murphy for Liston (both 53 mins), Diarmuid Kelly for Nash (63).
WESTMEATH: Jason Daly; Jack Smith, Kevin Maguire (capt), Nigel Harte; David Giles, Ronan Wallace (0-1), Jamie Gonoud; Sam Duncan, Jonathan Lynam; Ray Connellan, Ronan O'Toole (0-1), Sam McCartan (0-2); Luke Loughlin (1-3, one mark), John Heslin (0-4, three frees), Alex Gardiner (0-1).
Subs: Andy McCormack for Giles (45 mins), Kieran Martin for Gardiner, Fola Ayornde for Duncan (both 58), Lorcan Dolan for Lynam (68), Conor McCormack for Gonoud (71).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).