Kevin Maguire, who scored one of Westmeath's goals in the narrow defeat to Fermanagh. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile.

Westmeath's promotion hopes ended as late rally falls short

GAA: Allianz Football League Division 3

Fermanagh 0-15 Westmeath 2-8

By Gerry Buckley

Westmeath's promotion hopes from Division 3 of the Allianz Football League evaporated in the picturesque Ederney grounds yesterday afternoon (Saturday).

Fermanagh led from virtually start to finish against Dessie Dolan's off-colour troops and indeed were quite unfortunate not to win by more than single point.

Darragh McGurn's splendid point for the wind-assisted home team after a mere ten seconds set the tone, and the Ernesiders should have led by more than five points (0-9 to 0-4) at the interval.

They missed three gilt-edged goal chances in the first moiety as they ripped holes in a porous visiting rearguard. All they had to show from the three opportunities were two points - a fisted effort from Aidan Breen in the 17th minute, and a '45' from the same player some seven minutes later.

Wind assistance was of very little help to the men in maroon and white on the change of ends. Indeed, Kieran Donnelly's charges had increased their lead to seven points (0-13 to 0-6) by the 55th minute.

However, a dramatic two minutes yielded a brace of Westmeath goals - the first from inspirational skipper Kevin Maguire and the second from David Lynch (after a Ronan O'Toole point attempt had come back off the upright).

The green and white-clad side still had enough left in the tank to hold on. Full-back Ché Cullen kicked a wonderful point in the fifth minute of added-time to nudge them two clear. Ronan Wallace halved the deficit, but Nigel Harte was wide with a difficult attempt to equalise with the second last kick of the game.

Fermanagh: Sean McNally; Lee Cullen (0-1), Ché Cullen (0-1), Luke Flanagan; Jonathan Cassidy, Shane McGullion (0-1), Cian McManus (0-1); Ryan Jones, Brandon Horan; Josh Largo Ellis, Ryan Lyons (0-3, 3f), Ronan McCaffrey; Ultan Kelm (0-3), Darragh McGurn (0-3, 2f), Aidan Breen (0-2, 1'45'). Subs: Conor McGee for Breen (44 mins), Ciaran Corrigan for McGurn (66), Garvan Jones for Lyons (69), Sean Quigley for Corrigan (inj., 70+3).

Westmeath: Jason Daly; Daniel Scahill, Kevin Maguire (1-0), Nigel Harte; James Dolan, Ronan Wallace (0-2), Sam McCartan; Sam Duncan, Ray Connellan; Senan Baker, Ronan O’Toole (0-2, 1m), Conor McCormack; Luke Loughlin (0-1), John Heslin (0-3, 3f), David Lynch (1-0). Subs: Kieran Martin for Duncan (inj., 40 mins), Tom Molloy for Baker (48), Lorcan Dolan for Loughlin (57), Conor Dillon for McCartan (65).

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).