Saturday's Allianz Hurling League Division 2A final ended in disappointment for Westmeath, who were well beaten 2-19 to 2-12 by Carlow at O'Moore Park.
Colm Bonnar's charges were in control throughout as Westmeath trailed by eight points at the interval. Darragh Clinton and Derek McNicholas netted goals for Westmeath, but Carlow ran out convincing victors.
"We are very disappointed, from start to finish we never got to the pitch of the game," Westmeath manager Michael Ryan said in an interview with Midlands Sport 103.
"We were playing catch up. Our touch was off, everything about us was off, which I'm surprised about because we trained really, really well on Monday and Wednesday and took Friday night off. Everything pointed to a big performance, but unfortunately we didn't perform. Some of that is down to Carlow.
"In fairness they were excellent, that is the first thing that should be said. For 75 or 76 minutes their work-rate was good, they out thought us, they out fought us, and they out hurled us. From our point of view, I can't put a finger on it, we are devastated. It was a very disappointing showing."
Ryan acknowledged that it was a significant blow not to secure promotion to Division 1B for 2019.
"Absolutely, I was listening to Colm Bonnar, who said they lost four finals in five years, but they overcame that," Ryan says. "It is everybody's target to get up to play against better teams and I think we have the players to do that, but on the day we just never measured up. We have to sit down evaluate it to put a plan in place, hopefully we will get a lot more out of it."
The up-coming Joe McDonagh Cup promises to be interesting.
"We have three tough away games we have to go to Carlow, Kerry, and Laois," Ryan admits. "The most disappointing thing is we had won five games and only one loss, but unfortunately we lost the wrong game. That is a huge sense of disappointment. Some days you have to go through this, but certainly it is a big blow."