By Conor Duffy
LOUTH 2-7 WESTMEATH 1-10
This rescheduled Round 6 encounter had been elevated into a feisty promotion playoff with Wayne Kierans’ men requiring a win to return to Division 2, but Westmeath were determined not to let that happen.
The home side were quicker out of the starting blocks with the first 2 scores from Tommy Durnin and Ciaran Downey but Westmeath replied with 2 of their own, before the teams traded another point. One of the game’s many key moments came when Louth captain Bevan Duffy burst through the opposing defence before the St. Fechins clubman calmly slottied the ball in the net for the game’s opening goal, opening up a seemingly comfortable 3-point cushion for his team.
Both teams swapped points before the men from the Midlands closed the scoring for the opening period. The Wee County were the dominant force in the first half, but could only manage a 1-4 to 0-5 lead at the break.
It wasn’t long before the hosts were forced to pay for their failures in front of the posts when Westmeath converted a penalty 4 minutes into the second half.; Both sides slotted over a point each, before Louth gained and scored a penalty of their own; Jim McEnaney with the goal.
Westmeath went on a scoring spree with 3 points without reply, before James Craven steadied the ship with a point. Westmeath slotted over a point to retake the lead, before Louth were dealt a killer blow by referee Sean Laverty, when talisman and Westerns clubman Tommy Durnin was sent off on a second yellow card.
When all hope seemed lost, Louth substitute Ryan Burns popped over the equalising point; the Hunterstown Rovers player replacing Declan Byrne. In the dying moments both sides searched frantically for the winning point, but I think that a draw was the fairest result.