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Incredible Westmeath comeback to beat Meath and reach Leinster final

Tom Cribbin’s Westmeath came from ten points down to beat Meath at Croke Park this afternoon.

Westmeath players celebrate a famous victory at full-time.
Westmeath players celebrate a famous victory at full-time.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Meath 2-18
Westmeath 3-19

Jackie Cahill reports from Croke Park

WESTMEATH HAVE BEATEN Meath in senior championship football for the first time EVER!

John Heslin kicked 1-9 for the winners and Kieran Martin added 2-3 for the Lake County as they came from TEN POINTS DOWN to shock the Royals at Croke Park.

Westmeath’s remarkable victory, one of the most sensational ever at GAA HQ, has sent them through to a first Leinster senior football final since 2004.

Nobody could have seen this one coming as Meath ruled the roost in the opening half but indiscipline cost them dearly as two players were black-carded and netminder Paddy O’Rourke was sent off.

And yet Mick O’Dowd’s men led by nine points in the second half before a miracle happened.

Martin’s second goal kickstarted a quite remarkable revival that saw Westmeath outscore their shellshocked neighbours by 2-8 to 0-1 down the home straight.

Brian McMahon’s two goal blast had helped Meath to lead by 2-12 to 1-7 at half-time.

The Royals were unquestionably the better side but Westmeath corner back Killian Daly went over on his ankle and was visibly struggling before his man McMahon bagged that killer brace.

Shane Dempsey celebrates Shane Dempsey celebrates Westmeath's stunning win. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Daly misjudged a diagonal ball to allow McMahon in behind him for the first and the red-hot Rathoath man was on target again within a minute to hand Meath a 2-9 to 1-3 lead.

O’Dowd’s charges went on to lead by ten points twice before half-time but scores from Kieran Martin and John Heslin (free) reduced the arrears at the midway point.

Martin, along with Heslin and Shane Dempsey, was one of Westmeath’s better players in that opening half.

And the Maryland clubman steamed forward for the Lake County’s 24th-minute goal.

It was a crucial morale-boasting score as Westmeath had found themselves 0-1 to 0-8 adrift after 23 minutes.

Meath, playing against the wind, flew out of the blocks and registered the opening two scores from Stephen Bray and Graham Reilly, who were both excellent.

Heslin responded with Westmeath’s first point but they went 20 minutes without a score after that.

Kieran Martin and Ger Egan celebrates after the game Westmeath heroes Kieran Martin (left) and Ger Egan are all smiles at full-time. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Eamon Wallace was a late call-up to the Meath team in place of Mickey Newman and the Ratoath man was superb with four first half points from play.

Newman came on in the second half and kicked a score with his first touch as Meath continued to press.

But Westmeath weren’t done yet and Martin’s second goal began the most incredible of comebacks, crowned by Heslin’s breakaway goal in stoppage time.

Meath’s discipline let them down as Graham Reilly and Donncha Tobin were black-carded – and goalkeeper  O’Rourke was sent off at the death after he careered dangerously into Martin.

Scorers for Meath: Brian McMahon 2-2, Graham Reilly & Eamon Wallace 0-4 each, Stephen Bray 0-3, Andrew Tormey (2f) & Mickey Newman (1f) 0-2 each, Bryan Menton 0-1.

Scorers for Westmeath: John Heslin 1-9 (0-5f), Kieran Martin 2-3, Shane Dempsey, John Connellan & Paul Sharry (2 45s) 0-2 each, Ray Connellan 0-1 each.

Meath

1. Patrick O Rourke (Skryne)

2. James Mc Entee (Curraha)
3.Conor Mc Gill (Ratoath)
4. Donncha Tobin (Blackhall Gaels)

5. Mickey Burke (Longwood)
6. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny, Capt.)
7. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore Ashbourne)

8. Harry Rooney (Skryne)
9. Kevin Reilly (Navan O Mahony’s)

10. Graham Reilly (St. Colmcille’s)
11. Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey)
12. Andrew Tormey (Donaghmore Ashbourne)

18. Eamon Wallace (Ratoath)
14. Stephen Bray (Navan O’Mahony’s)
15. Brian Mc Mahon (Ratoath)

Subs: 

17. Adam Flanagan (Clonard) for Rooney (45)
19. David Dalton (Summerhill) for Burke (45)
13. Michael Newman (Kilmainham) for G Reilly (b/c 48)
21. Brian Power (Ratoath) for Tormey (60)
20. Joey Wallace (Ratoath) for Tobin (b/c 63)
22. Sean Tobin (Simonstown Gaels) for K Reilly (67)
24. Damien Carroll (Ballinabrackey) for McEntee (temp 68-70)

Westmeath

1. Darren Quinn (Tyrrellspass)

2. Killian Daly (Mullingar Shamrocks)
3. Kevin Maguire (Caulry)
4. John Gilligan (Ballymore)

5. Paddy Holloway (Castledaly)
6. Kieran Martin (Maryland)
7. James Dolan (Garrycastle)

8. Paul Sharry (St Loman’s)
9. Daragh Daly (Mullingar Shamrocks)

10. Ray Connellan (Athlone)
11. Ger Egan (Tyrrellspass, capt.)
12. Denis Corroon (Mullingar Shamrocks)

13. Lorcan Smyth (Mullingar Shamrocks)
14. John Heslin (St Loman’s)
15. Shane Dempsey (St Loman’s)

Subs: 

18. John Connellan (Athlone) for D Daly (29)
23. Jamie Gonoud (Tyrrellpass) for K Daly (30)
25. David Lynch (St Malachy’s) for Smyth (half-time)
22. Denis Glennon (Tyrrellpass) for Dempsey (39)
24. Paul Greville (Killucan) for Gilligan (59)
19. John Egan (Athlone) for Corroon (65)

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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