They say it is better to nearly drown than to nearly be saved. Tom Carr’s somewhat understrength Westmeath minor side looked in serious danger of going under for long periods of this opening round of the provincial championship but were saved by a late flurry of scores which yielded 1-2 and saw them progress with three points to spare.
Played in conditions that made quality football impossible, this was far from a classic with both sides guilty of countless basic mistakes.
Wexford had the advantage of the elements in the opening half and were quick to exert their superiority on the score board to lead by 0-3 to no score after eight minutes. The home side did find their range albeit intermittently to draw level at 0-4 after 20 minutes.
Wexford took a 0-6 to 0-4 lead into the break and but for some wayward shooting this should have been greater. Carr’s men were guilty of wasting a number of good chances in the opening minutes of the second half and found them in serious trouble when Wexford extended their lead to 0-9 to 0-4 by the three-quarter mark.
Not too unlike the second half rallies of their senior counterparts, the young guns raised their game and hit five unanswered points to draw level with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Luke Loughlin, who impressed throughout and finished with 0-5 to his name, gave Westmeath the lead for the first time as the end of normal time approached. Substitute Ciaran Shanley sealed matters when he rifled to the net following a mix-up in the Wexford defence. The visitors did manage to bag the final point of the game but it was too little too late.
Relief for Tom Carr and all connected with the minor side who will be under no illusions about their need to improve if they are to progress beyond the next round. With a few weeks to get things right and hopefully with a stronger hand to pick from in their next outing there is still reason to be optimistic for a protracted run in the provincial campaign.