Westmeath players Owen McCabe (left) and Tommy Doyle celebrate after their team's win over Wexford in the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Epic comeback seals sensational win for Westmeath hurlers

GAA: Leinster Senior Hurling Championship

Westmeath 4-18 Wexford 2-22

Westmeath produced one of the greatest comebacks in GAA history when claiming a truly sensational victory over Wexford in the Leinster SHC today (Sunday).

Wexford led by 17 points after 32 minutes - 2-14 to 0-3 - but yet it was Westmeath who prevailed on an astonishing final scoreline of 4-18 to 2-22. At half-time in Chadwicks Wexford Park, the home side and hot favourites led by 16 points, 2-15 to 0-5.

Westmeath raised many eyebrows by drawing with Wexford in Mullingar last year, but the manner of this victory on Wexford soil is on a different level entirely.

And it surely has GAA statisticians dusting down their record books to check if a team has ever won a senior championship match after being 17 points in arrears.

Two goals from Niall O’Brien instilled some hope into Westmeath ranks, and the incredible comeback was sealed by two further green flags from Niall Mitchell.

To make the result all the more remarkable, it was achieved without Westmeath's leading forward Killian Doyle, an All-Star nominee last year. In Killian's absence, his twin brother Ciarán was on freetaking duty and he finished with 11 points to his credit.

Two first-half goals from Conor McDonald helped Wexford into a seemingly unassailable lead, but the Lake County men refused to bow to what appeared inevitable defeat.

In addition to being a massive boost to Westmeath's chances of retaining Liam MacCarthy Cup status, the result knocks Wexford out of the championship and puts Darragh Egan's men in danger of dropping down to the second tier.

Even if Westmeath lose to Antrim in their final round robin game next Sunday, a defeat for Wexford to Kilkenny would see the Slaneysiders demoted. This is because Westmeath now have a head-to-head advantage over Wexford.

The victory was surely a particularly sweet one for Wexford native Joe Fortune, who served as a selector with his home county's U-20 team two years ago.

Fortune's Westmeath charges have suffered some very heavy defeats in both league and championship action this year, but this victory is a massive lift for all concerned as they target retaining their top tier place.

Well known actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers was in attedance at today's game in Wexford and the manner of Westmeath's victory was certainly like something from an outlandish film script!

Scorers - Westmeath: C Doyle 0-11 (10 frees); N O’Brien 2-3 (0-1f); N Mitchell 2-0; P Clarke, J Boyle, D McNicholas and E Keyes 0-1 each. Wexford: C McDonald 2-2; L Chin 0-6 (4fs); J O’Connor 0-4 (2 sideline cuts); R O’Connor 0-3; O Foley, C Hearne 0-2 each; M Dwyer, I Carty, C Dunbar 0-1 each.

Westmeath: Noel Conaty; Conor Shaw, Tommy Doyle, Johnny Bermingham; Aaron Craig, Robbie Greville, Darragh Egerton; Shane McGovern, Ciarán Doyle; Eoin Keyes, Niall O’Brien, Charlie McCormick; Owen McCabe, Joseph Boyle, Davy Glennon. Subs: Peter Clarke for McGovern (H-T), Cormac Boyle for McCormick (H-T), Niall Mitchell for Glennon (51 mins), Derek McNicholas for Doyle (66).

Wexford: James Lawlor; Shane Reck, Liam Ryan, Conor Devitt; Ian Carty, Matthew O’Hanlon, Simon Donohoe; Jack O’Connor, Cathal Dunbar; Liam Óg McGovern, Lee Chin, Oisín Foley; Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald, Mikie Dwyer. Subs: Charlie McGuckin for Dunbar (60 mins), Conor Hearne for Dwyer (60), Diarmuid O’Keeffe for Foley (70).

Referee: Chris Mooney (Dublin).