Down’s John McGovern tackles Ronan O'Toole of Westmeath. Leah Scholes/INPHO

Westmeath beat Down to claim Division 3 title, Laois overcome Leitrim for Division 4 glory

Eoin Lowry, Ben Dempsey and Paul Kingston struck the goals for their side.

Westmeath 2-10

Down 0-13

JONATHAN LYNAM netted twice at Croke Park as Westmeath inflicted yet more final misery on Down, securing the NFL Division 3 title with a late surge.

Down were chasing a first final win in either the league or Championship since winning their last All-Ireland in 1994 but came up agonisingly short again.

Lynam’s two goals were crucial and his second in the 60th minute put Westmeath into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Sam McCartan did brilliantly for the goal, weaving through a packed Down defence to set Lynam free.

McCartan added two points from a couple of 45s, finished with four points in total and was a deserved Man of the Match.

The win matches Westmeath’s 2022 Tailteann Cup final triumph at Croke Park and leaves them in a strong position heading into next weekend’s Leinster SFC opener with Wicklow in Portlaoise.

As for Down, the 2023 beaten Tailteann Cup finalists will have to regroup after yet another morale-sapping defeat as they will play Antrim in an Ulster SFC quarter-final on 13 April.

When the sides met in the group stage they drew in Mullingar so it was no surprise that this was another arm wrestle for long stages.

Lynam’s first goal, when he beat the Down goalkeeper to a high ball in from Luke Loughlin and fisted to the net, came in the 28th minute but Down still led by 0-8 to 1-4 at half-time.

The sides were level twice more in the third quarter and deadlocked at 0-10 to 1-7.

Oisin Savage nudged Down ahead with a point but Lynam’s second goal and two converted 45s from McCartan put Westmeath into a winning position and they held on for a significant win.

Westmeath scorers: Jonathan Lynam 2-0, Sam McCartan 0-4 (0-2 45), Robbie Forde 0-3 (0-2f), Luke Loughlin 0-1 (0-1f), David Lynch 0-1, Conor Dillon 0-1.

Down scorers: Pat Havern 0-7 (0-7f), Liam Kerr 0-3, Odhran Murdock 0-1, Miceal Rooney 0-1, Oisin Savage 0-1.


1. Jason Daly

2. Daniel Scahill
3. Charlie Drumm
24. Jamie Gonoud

7. Sam McCartan
5. James Dolan
6. David Lynch

8. Ray Connellan
10. Jonathan Lynam

9. Andy McCormack
11. Ronan O’Toole
12. Conor Dillon

13. Luke Loughlin
19. Stephen Smith
15. Robbie Forde


  • 18. Senan Baker for Smith (45)
  • 26. Lorcan Dolan for Loughlin (50)
  • 17. Matthew Whittaker for Dillon (54)
  • 23. Nigel Harte for Gonoud (60)
  • 25. John Heslin for Forde (71)


1. John O’Hare

3. Ryan McEvoy
2. Peter Fegan
6. Pierce Laverty (Captain)

5. Finn McElroy
13. Danny Magill
4. Ceilum Doherty

14. Pat Havern
8. Johnny Flynn

10. Miceal Rooney
11. Liam Kerr
7. Daniel Guinness

15. James Guinness
9. Odhran Murdock
20. John McGovern


  • 18. Oisin Savage for McGovern (39)
  • 22. Shane Annett for James Guinness (44)
  • 19. Conor Francis for McElroy (54)
  • 24. Barry O’Hagan for Rooney (61)
  • 23. Rory Mason for Flynn (66)

Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).

Laois 3-14

Leitrim 0-9

Eoin Lowry, Ben Dempsey and Paul Kingston struck the goals as Laois capped promotion from Division 4 of the NFL with the title outright.

In just their sixth competitive game at Croke Park, Andy Moran’s Leitrim sought an upset win — their first-ever at GAA HQ.

But after falling behind to Dempsey’s 18th-minute goal, they trailed for the remainder of the game and a third-quarter rally only briefly reduced the deficit to two points.

Laois ultimately found scores easier to come by with Man of the Match Evan O’Carroll tormenting the Leitrim defence, scoring 0-6 and playing the final pass for the first two goals.

Lowry’s goal came in the 48th minute and was a strong riposte to Leitrim’s mini-revival.

Laois had led 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time but three Leitrim points in-a-row from goalkeeper Nevin O’Donnell and Barry McNulty cut the gap to just two points after 47 minutes.

Then came a Kingston Laois point and the Lowry goal and suddenly there were six points between the teams again.

Kingston was fed by a terrific Lowry pass down the left wing for the third Laois goal in the 62nd minute as the favourites cruised to success.

It’s Laois’ first piece of league silverware since winning the same title in 2018 and they will have a fortnight break until they meet Offaly in the Leinster SFC.

As for Leitrim, they must recover quickly as Sligo are waiting in the Connacht SFC in eight days.

Laois scorers: Evan O’Carroll 0-6 (0-2f), Paul Kingston 1-2, Eoin Lowry 1-2, Ben Dempsey 1-0, Mark Barry 0-2, Kieran Lillis 0-1 (0-1m), Rioghan Murphy 0-1.

Leitrim scorers: Nevin O’Donnell 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1 45), Riordan O’Rourke 0-2, Ryan O’Rourke 0-2, Mark Plunkett 0-1, Barry McNulty 0-1.


1. Killian Roche

2. Ben Dempsey, 22. James Kelly, 5. Eoin Buggie

7. Brian Byrne, 6. Mark Timmons, 3. Seamus Lacey

23. Kieran Lillis, 9. Damon Larkin

10. Kevin Swayne, 11. Eoin Lowry, 12. Shaun Fitzpatrick

13. Mark Barry, 14. Evan O’Carroll (Captain), 15. Paul Kingston


  • 21. Simon Fingleton for Byrne (53)
  • 8. Conor Heffernan for Lillis (62)
  • 24. Rioghan Murphy for Kingston (63)
  • 20. Niall Dunne for Fitzpatrick (64)
  • 19. Mikie Dempsey for Swayne (65)


1. Nevin O’Donnell

2. Conor Reynolds, 6. Mark Diffley (Joint Captain), 3. Donal Casey

8. Jack Gilheany

5. Donal Wrynn (Joint Captain), 4. Aidan Flynn, 7. Jack Foley

9. Pearce Dolan, 12. Barry McNulty

10. Mark Plunkett, 14. Darragh Rooney, 13. Tom Prior

11. Ryan O’Rourke, 15. Riordan O’Rourke


  • 23. Evan Sweeney for Reynolds (20)
  • 22. Paul Keaney for Prior (42)
  • 19. Shane Quinn for Riordan O’Rourke (51)
  • 17. Adam Reynolds for Casey (61)
  • 20. James Rooney for Flynn (67)

Referee: Thomas Murphy (Galway).

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