WESTMEATH 3-12 ARMAGH 2-15
A character laden second display earned Westmeath a deserved draw against fellow promotion hopefuls, Armagh, in the surrounds of TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Sunday afternoon.
In what was a stirring Allianz National Football League Division Two contest, Westmeath were close to attaining victory, but a late goal from Armagh playing stalwart, Jamie Clarke, ensured a parity conclusion to an end to end fixture.
Having claimed five points from their opening four league fixtures, Westmeath are perfectly placed on the league table, and with one home game remaining against Leinster rivals Laois, complemented by away contests against Roscommon and Kildare, the Lake County may begin to harbour thoughts of a final fixture in Croke Park on Sunday, March 29.
On the vast green swathe that is TEG Cusack Park, Armagh started proceedings in dominant fashion and come the conclusion of the game’s opening ten minutes had a scoreboard lead of eight points (1-5 to 0-0 ), prior to John Heslin pointing the Lake County’s first score of the match.
The Orchard County were in determined playing mode and continued to positively effect scoring proceedings and come the shrill of the half time whistle what appeared to be a winning lead was established as Westmeath sought the solace of their changing room and some perils of wisdom from management.
A brief and structured respite concluded, Westmeath returned to the playing fray in the second half, scoreline retrieval being the sole goal.
Perennial talisman, Heslin, netted a penalty as the second moiety gained momentum with Rosemount clubman, Boidu Sayeh levelling matters swiftly following a Denis Corroon green flag.
Momentum now fully with the maroon and white clad footballers, Luke Loughlin extended the Lake County lead ahead of points from Heslin and Ronan O’Toole as an unlikely half time feat now appeared achievable, Westmeath in control of proceedings by four points with the final quarter of the fixture remaining.
However, that late in proceedings goal from the effervescent Clarke ensured the game culminated in a draw, as Athlone clubmna Ray Connellan narrowly failed with an offensive mark as the game elapsed into injury time.
A short journey to Hyde Park, Roscommon, awaits on Sunday next. A win for Westmeath will enhance momentum and confidence levels and most likely, secure their divisional status (no doubt, their pre-league aspiration ), with an ultimate fixture appearance at GAA HQ not to be dismissed.