Westmeath made an impressive start under new manager Colin Kelly when defeating Laois by 1-13 to 1-12 in the O'Byrne Cup at TEG Cusack Park last Sunday.
Kelly's team seized control in the opening period to earn a 1-7 to 0-4 lead. James Dolan notched Westmeath's goal, while Luke Loughlin and Callum McCormack were effective in attack.
After the restart, Laois, prompted by Gary Walsh and Paul Kingston, narrowed the gap, but Westmeath held out. Kingston did net a goal for Laois, but Westmeath still managed to carve out a victory, which pleased Kelly. Laois and Westmeath clash again on Sunday at Stradbally, with the aggregate winner advancing to the knockout stages of the competition.
In Banagher, Westmeath's hurlers suffered a 2-15 to 1-16 Walsh Cup loss against Offaly, who were inspired by two Colm Gath goals. Trailing 1-12 to 0-8 at the interval, Westmeath responded in the second half with Alan Devine sharp from frees. Devine also notched a goal four minutes after the restart as Westmeath narrowed the gap, but Offaly held out.
Ryan was satisfied with Westmeath's display ahead of the January 28 Allianz Hurling League Division 2A opener against Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park. The teams meet again next Sunday in Mullingar, with both outfits expected to make several changes for that encounter.