By Deniese O’Flaherty
Longford consolidated their position in Division 3 for next year and in doing so consigned their neighbours Westmeath to Division 4 in what was their third consecutive relegation.
In a tight first half both sides were level five times with Callum McCormack very much to the fore for the Lake County kicking over three fine points in the opening minutes. Barry McKeon and Brian Kavanagh did the early scoring for Longford while a point from James McGivney gave them a slight edge at half-time; 0-6 to 0-5.
Longford completely dominated the early exchanges of the second half and points from Kavanagh (two frees) and substitute Robbie Smyth gave them a four point lead in the 44th minute. John Heslin replied with a free for Westmeath before Longford lost McGivney with a black card.
The lead was four again in the 50th minute after a fine sideline ball from Darren Gallagher found Michael Quinn and he pointed over. Westmeath were in desperate need of scores and in the 55th minute Heslin brought an excellent save out of Longford keeper Paddy Collum.
The sides then traded points but Longford were dealt a blow in the 61st minute when wing-back Diarmuid Masterson was sent off for a second yellow card. Westmeath tried to make use of their numerical advantage but Longford were resilient.
Longford’s Robbie Smyth was black carded near the end. Heslin (free) and John Egan cut the deficit for Westmeath in stoppage time but that was as close as they got to Longford. Denis Connerton’s side achieved what they targeted at the start of the year by retaining their Division 3 status while for last year’s beaten Leinster finalists Westmeath it’s a disappointing end to a very poor league campaign.
Longford: Paddy Collum; Diarmuid Masterson, Barry Gilleran, Andrew Farrell; Donie McElligott, Dermot Brady, Dessie Reynolds (0-1); Darren Gallagher, Michael Quinn (0-1); Barry O’Farrell, James McGivney (0-1), Barry McKeon (0-3,2f); Paul McKeon, Brian Kavanagh (0-5,4f), Liam Connerton.
Subs: Robbie Smyth (0-2) for Connerton (32), Mark Hughes for McGivney bc (48), Fergal Battrim for B O’Farrell (54), Brian Farrell for Hughes (blood sub 62), Colm P Smyth for P McKeon (63), Mark Hughes for B McKeon (69), Shane Doyle for Smyth bc (70+1)
Westmeath: Darren Quinn; Killian Daly, Francis Boyle, Kevin Maguire; Paddy Holloway, Kieran Martin, David Lynch; Dennis Corroon, Darragh Daly; Ray Connellan, Callum McCormack (0-3), James Dolan; Ger Egan, John Heslin (0-5,4f), Shane Dempsey (0-1).
Subs: John Connellan for D Daly (ht), John Egan (0-1) for Lynch (53), Paul Greville (0-1) for Martin (54)
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)