Westmeath captain Aidan Canning lifts the trophy after the All-Ireland U21 Football Championship final versus Kerry at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick on May 15, 1999. Also pictured are Westmeath player David O'Shaughnessy (left) and GAA official Tom Farrell (right). Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.

Westmeath stunned Kerry to win All-Ireland crown 25 years ago

Twenty-five years ago today, Westmeath claimed a famous victory over Kerry in the All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship final at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, on May 15, 1999.

The Kerry team included such stars as Tomás Ó Sé (nephew of future Westmeath senior manager Páidí Ó Sé), Mike McCarthy, Tom O’Sullivan, Aodán Mac Gearailt, Paul Galvin and Tadhg Kennelly.

As might be expected, Kerry went into the final as favourites, having defeated Roscommon by 3-15 to 1-8 in the other semi-final. Yet Luke Dempsey's Westmeath charges managed to overcome a formidable Kerry outfit managed by Jack O'Connor, who has since guided the Kingdom to four All-Ireland senior titles.

Athlone's Joe Fallon and Garrycastle's Dessie Dolan accounted for nine points between them in Westmeath's 0-12 to 0-9 victory, on a day that will never be forgotten by Westmeath supporters.

Westmeath's remaining scores came from Tubberclair's Fergal Wilson, Ballinagore's Michael Ennis and Kevin Burke of Milltownpass. Burke was partnered at midfield by David O'Shaughnessy, the captain of Westmeath's Leinster senior championship winning team in 2004.

Goalkeeper Cathal Mullin crucially saved a penalty from Kerry's Ian Twiss during the second half, in a final where Westmeath had heroes all over the pitch and huge levels of support in Limerick.

Westmeath made just one substitution on the day and it was enforced by injury, with Derek Heavin replacing his Castledaly club colleague James Galvin and fitting in seamlessly.

The Westmeath team was captained by Aidan Canning and, amid scenes of great jubilation afterwards, the St Loman's, Mullingar player lifted the Tim Clarke Cup, with the presentation made somewhat ironically by a Kerryman, then GAA President Sean Kelly.

The Westmeath panel included the late Enda Mulvihill, the Garrycastle player who passed away at the age of 43 in 2022 after a brave battle with illness.

A clipping from the front page of the Westmeath Independent in May 1999, after Westmeth's All-Ireland final win.

The Under-21 championship was replaced by the Under-20 grade in 2018 and, interestingly, 25 years on Westmeath will contest the All-Ireland U-20 'B' final against Down in Navan this Saturday. A Westmeath win and silverware would be welcomed by supporters, but it's a far cry from facing Kerry in the 1999 final and it won't be a case of 'Party Like It's 1999' as the song puts it.

The scorers and team lists (and the entire Westmeath panel) from the 1999 All-Ireland U-21 final follow below, along with the results of all Westmeath's games in that successful campaign, during which a replay was needed to decide the Leinster final against Laois.

Scorers - Westmeath: J Fallon 0-6 (3 frees); D Dolan 0-3 (1f); F Wilson, M Ennis and K Burke 0-1 each. Kerry: A Mac Gearailt 0-5 (4f), N Kennelly 0-3; I Twiss 0-1.

Westmeath: Cathal Mullin (Garrycastle); Paul Mullen (Athlone), James Galvin (Castledaly), Fergal Murray (Athlone); Brian Lambden (Mullingar Shamrocks), Aidan Canning (St Loman’s, Mullingar, captain), Micheál Burke (Mullingar Shamrocks); Kevin Burke (Milltownpass), David O’Shaughnessy (Garrycastle); Shane Deering (The Downs), Fergal Wilson (Tubberclair), Richie Browne (Maryland); Joe Fallon (Athlone), Michael Ennis (Ballinagore), Des Dolan (Garrycastle). Sub used: Derek Heavin (Castledaly) for Galvin (injured).

Rest of panel: Padraig Leavy (Killucan), John Brennan (Kilbeggan Shamrocks), Derek Griffin (Coralstown/Kinnegad), Alan Daly (Garrycastle), Barry Conroy (The Downs), JP Casey (Castledaly), Keith Shanley (The Downs), Alan Mangan (St Malachy's), Barry Murphy (Tyrrellspass), Enda Mulvihill (Garrycastle), Bobby Elliffe (Loughnavalley), David Kilmartin (Coralstown/Kinnegad)

Kerry: Kieran Cremin; Stephen O'Sullivan, Tom O'Sullivan, Michael McCarthy; Sean Hegarty, Tomás Ó Sé, Enda Galvin; Tommy Griffin, John Sugrue; Noel Kennelly, Aodán Mac Gearailt, Tadhg Kennelly; Paul Galvin, Liam Murphy, Ian Twiss. Subs used: Sean O'Sullivan for P Galvin; Michael D Cahill for Twiss.

Westmeath's road to glory in 1999

February 21, Newbridge, Westmeath 0-9, Kildare 0-9 (draw),

March 13, Cusack Park, Westmeath 2-14, Kildare 1-14, AET (replay)

March 21, Newbridge, Westmeath 1-11, Wicklow 1-10.

April 4, Leinster final, Tullamore, Westmeath 1-12 Laois 2-9 (draw)

April 11, Leinster final, Tullamore, Westmeath 1-9 Laois 0-10 (replay)

May 2, All-Ireland semi-final, Croke Park, Westmeath 2-10, Monaghan 0-8

May 15, All-Ireland final, Limerick, Westmeath 0-12 Kerry 0-9.