21:28, 30 Jun 2012
Westmeath 1-15 Louth 0-12
Substitute Callum McCormack collected 1-3 as Westmeath sent 13-man Louth packing in a fiery first round qualifier in Mullingar tonight.
Louth's All-Ireland Championship bid was crumbling before the break with the dismissals of captain Mark Brennan and Darren Clarke.
Brennan saw red for a 25th minute off-the-ball incident which left Westmeath youngster John Heslin needing treatment. And Clarke followed him near half-time after clashing with Doran Harte.
The game was dominated by fouls and Louth lost their grip on a 0-7 to 0-5 interval lead, with the numerical advantage helping Westmeath take control.
The Wee County outfit had the benefit of a stiff wind over the first 35 minutes and found their stride early on, with Clarke landing a brace of frees and Aaron Hoey scoring from play.
After a spate of poor shooting, Westmeath found their range as Heslin pointed twice from placed balls and Ger Egan opened their account from play.
Louth reopened a two-point lead thanks to efforts from JP Rooney and Declan Byrne, however Brennan's red card threaten to derail their challenge.
Clarke did manage to add two more frees before he was sent to the line by referee Derek Fahy, with that decision drawing the ire of the vocal Louth support.
McCormack and Denis Glennon shot the hosts ahead early in the second half and determined to gain revenge on Louth for last month's Leinster SFC defeat, they kicked on with points from Heslin, Glennon and Egan.
Louth were missing 11 first choice players due to emigration and injuries and manager Peter Fitzpatrick was also absent after taking ill during the week.
But they rallied superbly to get back level at 0-11 apiece courtesy of a run of scores from Jim McEneaney (0-2), Derek Crilly and Ray Finnegan.
Suddenly, the heat was back on Westmeath and they had midfielder Heslin sent-off for a second bookable offence with seven minutes remaining.
Importantly though, the Lakesiders responded in match-winning style. Egan picked out Glennon who ferried the ball on for McCormack to slot home a vital 65th minute goal.
That strike gave them enough of a cushion to see out a deserved win, with late points from James Dolan, Egan, Glennon and McCormack giving the final scoreline a flattering look.
Louth were out on their feet at that stage and Pat Flanagan's men took full advantage, keen to put away a team that hit them with a decisive injury-time goal when the sides last met.
Scorers - Westmeath: C McCormack 1-3, G Egan, J Heslin (0-4f) 0-4 each, D Glennon 0-3 (0-1f), J Dolan 0-1 each
Louth: D Clarke 0-4 (0-4f), J McEneaney 0-3 (0-3f), D Crilly, R Finnegan, D Byrne, A Hoey, JP Rooney 0-1 each
WESTMEATH: D Quinn; M McCallon, J Gaffney, K Maguire; D Harte, P Sharry, D McDermott; J Heslin, P Bannon; K Martin, David Glennon, G Egan; M Ennis, J Dolan, Denis Glennon.
Subs used: C McCormack for McDermott (half-time), D Corroon for Ennis (48 mins).
Louth: N Gallagher; P Rath, D Finnegan, G Hoey; R Finnegan, M Fanning, D Byrne; J McEneaney, M Brennan; A Reid, A Hoey, D Reid; D Crilly, JP Rooney, D Clarke.
Subs used: J Carr for Hoey (half-time), D Collier for Hoey (53 mins), R Moore for Rooney (56), D O'Connor for Fanning (67), D McComish for Finnegan (68)
Referee: Derek Fahy (Longford)