The margin for error is now slim for Westmeath, who know that only a victory will suffice against Mayo in Mullingar on Sunday if relegation is to be avoided.
Mayo’s stirring success over Kerry at Castlebar combined with Westmeath’s loss in Celtic Park means this match has added significance for Paul Bealin’s midlanders’. The concession of soft goals up north in the early stages had Westmeath in bother and the visitors never subsequently recovered.
“There is very little good I can take out of the Derry match,” Bealin said. “It was disappointing because when they got the good start they had a platform. We had a couple of goalscoring chances that if we had put away might have made the score a bit more respectable, but on the day Derry were the better team. You cannot take that away from them.
“The League final last year was very tight. The match before with a different squad they bet us well, but we would have targeted this as a game we were capable of winning. It is a very tight League and we will have to win all our games. We have got Mayo next and we will see how this goes.
“In Division One football when you make mistakes you are going to get punished. When you gift them a start with two goals in a minute you are chasing the game. We were seven points down and chasing the game. Derry have moved on. They looked more physical and stronger with the ball and got scores from all areas of the pitch.”
Despite the latest loss Bealin is adamant that Westmeath’s panel is stocked with promising youngsters. “We have still got some very good footballers. When you take Kieran Gavin at 25 years ago we only have two guys older than him. Derry are in a very good place at the moment, they got a lot early on so we were chasing the game.
“A lot of players tried hard, but sometimes even when you try hard it still doesn’t work out for you. We could have made three or four changes early, we played until the end. Some of the young lads that came in did okay, but we will look at the stats and analysis and they weren’t particularly good.
When you are six or seven points down at half time it is difficult because we knew we had to get scores on.”
Derry’s prowess attacking from deep caused Westmeath all sorts of bother and Bealin was disappointed by Westmeath’s failure to get out of the blocks quickly. “We know the way Derry play coming off the shoulder attacking from the half back line and they are very strong with possession and we couldn’t turn them over.
“We were well beaten, we chased the game after the first two minutes. We had spoken about getting a good start, we won the toss, we played with the breeze, but after two minutes they had two goals. It was 2-2 to 0-1 after six or seven minutes. Celtic Park is a difficult place to get a result anyway, but we made it difficult for ourselves too.”