Meath left it late to see off Westmeath in a tense Division Two clash in Pairc Tailteann.
ndy McEntee’s bench proved to be the difference between the sides as his subs contributed 0-5 while the Westmeath challenged faded badly down the home stretch.
Still, the visitors will wonder how they left Navan with nothing to show for their efforts, given that they had their noses in front for almost the whole game while Meath led just twice – once for a brief period towards the end of the first half and then again in injury time.
The sides were level six times in total but Westmeath had led at the break (0-8 to 0-7) with John Heslin and Ger Egan carrying the fight for Jack Cooney’s side.
And they stretched that advantage to three points shortly after the resumption. That cushion helped them to keep in front throughout the second half. And even when Sam Duncan was black carded, they emerged from his ten-minute stint in the bin still in the lead.
However, the Royals had built up a head of steam at that stage and aided by generous Westmeath fouling they got back level when goalkeeper Andy Colgan clipped over a vital score.
Bryan McMahon put Meath in front for the first time since the 31st minute just as the clock ticked past 70 before another sub Eamon Wallace put them two up. Meath finished the game with 14 men when Ronan Ryan was shown a black but it made no difference as they held on for a crucial win.
SCORERS – Meath: J Morris 0-3 (3f), C O’Sullivan (1m), B McMahon (1f) 0-2 each, T O’Reilly (1f), M Costello, E Harkin, D Campion, A Colgan (1f), E Wallace, F Reilly, B Menton, J Conlon 0-1 each.
Westmeath: J Heslin 0-7 (5f), L Loughlin 0-3 (2 ‘45), G Egan 0-2, R O’Toole, R Connellan, R Wallace 0-1 each
Meath: A Colgan; S Lavin, C McGill, R Ryan; E Harkin, S McEntee, D Keogan; B Menton, P Harnan; E Devine, D Campion, M Costello; J Morris, T O’Reilly, C O’Sullivan SUBS: James Conlon for Campion, B McMahon for T O’Reilly (both HT), J Scully for Costello, F Reilly for Harkin (both 50), E Wallace for Devine (57), J O’Connor for Morris (68), D Dillon for O’Sullivan (73),
Westmeath: J Daly; J Smith, K Maguire, B Sayeh; J Dolan, R Wallace, J Gonoud; S Duncan, R Connellan; D Lynch, D Corroon, G Egan; R O’Toole, J Heslin, L Loughlin SUBS: K Martin for Lynch (53), L Dolan for Smith (62), B Kelly for Egan (73).
Ref: B Cawley (Kildare)