Division status retained, Westmeath concluded their Allianz National Football League campaign in Newbridge on Saturday afternoon, a five point loss to Kildare ensuring that the glimmer of promotion hope was erased come the shrill of the final whistle.
Prior to throw in, Westmeath, striving for a victory, were reliant upon fixtures in the division proceeding in their favour if promotion to the top tier of league football was to be achieved, but the loss quelled ambitions as thoughts now swiftly turn to the start of the Leinster senior championship and the daunting prospect that will be the challenge presented by reigning All-Ireland champions, Dublin, in Portlaoise, on November 7.
Strong as their performance was the week previous, Westmeath failed to attain such heights in this fixture and trailed Kildare for the majority of game time. A half time lead of three points for Kildare was extended to five points as the game concluded, the victors scoring four of the final five points ensuring the brace of league points would not be departing from St Conleth's Park.
As is now a regular custom, Westmeath talisman John Heslin effected the scoreboard primarily for Westmeath, his four point haul ensuring a 1-43 scoring return for the St Loman's forward league campaign.
His unerring accuracy will be much relied upon when the Metropolitans provide the opening round championship opposition but the positive results garnered from the seven league contests played will be a source of confidence for the Lake County as provincial playing matters fast approach.
Achieving fourth position in a highly competitive division, in which promotion for all the competing counties was not certain prior to the start of the final round of fixtures, is laudable and the return of Ger Egan to the playing fray on Saturday is a further boost to Jack Cooney's charges.
The challenge presented by Dublin is immense but in a year of continuing uncertainty perchance Westmeath will afford the current championship matadors due cause for playing concern within what will be the eerie surrounds of O'Moore Park in Portlaoise.