Saturday’s Allianz Hurling League Division 2A decider proved to be a disappointment for Westmeath, who were defeated 5-17 to 3-17 by Kerry at the Gaelic Grounds.
Five first-half goals from Kerry were critical as Westmeath remained spirited, but sufficient damage had been inflicted by the Kingdom.
“They nailed us in the first half,” Westmeath manager Michael Ryan admitted. “In fairness to them they were very, very good. If Brendan’s goal had been allowed it might have been different, but right through the field they were better than us.
“They were very good in the air; they used the ball very well and their fitness was good. For some reason we were off the pace. I don’t know why; we have got to find the answer for that. We weren’t near our best.”
Ryan was bothered that Westmeath’s total of 3-17 wasn’t enough to secure victory. “We conceded 5-17, we did score 3-17. That should win you most matches. We did miss three goal chances as well. If you look at the full 72 or 73 minutes the better team won, we can have no complaints.
“Kerry were very strong in the air. It is something we have got to improve on in Westmeath - we aren’t as strong as we should and need to be. It is something we’ve got to work on. Championship is now only a month away. It will be difficult to get back on the horse, but that is what we’ve got to do.”
Now Westmeath will prepare for the start of the Leinster Hurling Championship round robin series.
“There is still an awful lot to play for. When we came out on the pitch I felt we were in a very good place with a lot to play for. We didn’t take the opportunity so it is Division 2A again next year.
“Westmeath hurling needs to be higher. This Kerry team can give Antrim a real fright. They won this division last year so they’re a good side. There will be nothing in that game. I saw Antrim play Laois and there will be nothing in the Antrim Kerry game.
“We will have to look at the way we set up. Maybe we weren’t sharp enough on or off the field. We will look at ourselves as a management team. Overall I’m very disappointed.”
Westmeath now need to regroup according to Ryan.
“Darragh Clinton did a lot of good things; we have some good young lads coming through. You need to win matches to develop a team. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.
“It is a question of sitting down having a good look at it and regrouping.”