Westmeath draw leaves Wexford’s championship prospects on a cliff edge

Derek McNicholas’s late goal sends the home team and crowd wild at Cusack Park

Westmeath 2-15 Wexford 0-21

Westmeath claimed a dramatic draw with a late additional time goal stunning Wexford in Mullingar.

Wexford now face into a must win game with arch rivals Kilkenny next Saturday. The highly dramatic ending to this fourth round Leinster round-robin clash at a sun splashed Cusack Park on Saturday evening was wildly celebrated by the home team and crowd.

Wexford looked to be coasting with a three point lead when Westmeath substitute Kevin O'Regan lofted a high speculative ball into the goalmouth. Goalkeeper Mark Fanning failed to deal with the situation and replacement full-forward Derek McNicholas somehow managed to push the loose ball over the line to send the home support wild, with Wexford's following left in a state of shock.


Wexford had two final opportunities to snatch a last gasp victory but both Conor McDonald and Liam Og McGovern failed with point attempts.

This was the second soft goal that Wexford conceded - as after just 24 minutes Fanning allowed a Niall Mitchell lobbing ball slip from his grasp to the corner of the net. A score that revitalised Westmeath's challenge. At that stage they trailed 0-8 to 0-5, with only Killian Doyle's frees keeping them in the game having already shot six wides through the opening 12 minutes.

Wexford registered 14 wides in the second half, 21 in total, and it was this inaccuracy and attempts from distance and acute angles that proved costly. They have just four points from their four games played, victory over Laois, draws with Galway and Westmeath and a defeat to Dublin.

Lee Chin hit five of Wexford’s first half points, four from frees, although he would go on to show a lack of consistency from frees for the remainder of the game. Doyle at the opposite end gave a wonderful display of finishing, ending with a personal tally of 0-10, nine frees.

Wexford could only manage a single point interval lead, 0-12 to 1-8, and continued to find it difficult to shake off Westmeath's stubborn challenge after the interval. They still managed to lead 0-16 to 1-9 after 46 minutes, with two long range points from defender Simon Donohoe a highlight.

With the sides continuing to trade scores, Westmeath put over three unanswered Doyle pointed frees to reduce the deficit to two points (0-18 to 1-13) with 11 minutes remaining.

They finished with 14 players however as Davy Glennon was sent off for a second yellow card offence five minutes from the end.

A Chin free helped Wexford into a 0-19 to 1-13 lead, but Doyle responded with a superb long range point from play. Chin and O'Regan exchanged points, while a Conor Hearne point four minutes into additional time gave his side a three point cushion, 0-21 to 1-15.

Then came that explosive finish and McNicholas's dramatic goal as Westmeath celebrated as if they had achieved victory.

WESTMEATH: Noel Conaty; Johnny Bermingham, Aonghus Clarke, Darragh Egerton; Robie Greville, Tommy Doyle, Aaron Craig (0-1); Cormac Boyle, Shane McGovern; Davy Glennon (0-1), Joey Boyle, Niall O'Brien (0-1); Niall Mitchell (1-0), Eoin Keyes, Killian Doyle (0-11, 10 frees). Subs: Kevin Regan (0-1) for C Boyle (49 mins), Owen McCabe for Keyes (50), Derek McNicholas (1-0) for J Boyle (67), Darragh Clinton for O'Brien (70), Jack Gillen for Mithell (73).

WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohoe (0-2), Liam Ryan, Conor Devitt; Matthew O'Hanlon, Damien Reck, Paudie Foley; Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Liam Og McGovern (0-2); Jack O'Connor, Oisin Foley (0-2), Lee Chin (0-9, eight frees); Paul Morris (0-1), Conor McDonald (0-2), Rory O'Connor (0-2). subs: Kevin Foley for O'Keeffe (29 mins), Charlie McGuckin for Morris (50), Connal Flood for J O'Connor (54), Mikie Dwyer for O Foley (62), Conor Hearne (0-1) for Ryan (67).

Referee: Shane Hynes (Galway).