Wexford 3-22 Westmeath 2-9
A glut of timely goals from Rory Jacob, Diarmuid O’Keefe and Garrett Sinnott sent Wexford through to the next round of the All-Ireland SHC qualifiers.
Jacob’s effort on the stroke of half-time moved the hosts into a 1-13 to 0-6 lead at Wexford Park, and O’Keefe and Sinnott both netted inside three minutes of the restart.
Two quick-fire goals from Brendan Murtagh and Cormac Boyle gave Westmeath some hope, but Diarmuid Lyng’s 15-point tally eased Wexford to victory.
It was a satisfying night’s work for Liam Dunne’s men as they racked up a healthy total in gloomy, wet conditions, while hitting only eight wides.
The rain showers made for a scrappy first half, the opening 17 minutes of which Westmeath were well in the hunt.
Niall O’Brien picked off two early points, with Aonghus Clarke and Murtagh both looking lively off limited possession.
PJ Nolan had pointed Wexford ahead after just 40 seconds and they maintained that lead with accurate shooting from Lyng and David Redmond.
The best of their early scores saw Paul Morris get on the ball and work it out to Lyng who slotted his third of the game, moving the Model men 0-05 to 0-03 ahead.
Gradually, that advantage was widen and by the 27th minute Harry Kehoe and Lyng had the margin out to 0-10 to 0-4. Westmeath replied with their first point in 14 minutes, Robbie Greville splitting the posts.
Lyng and O’Brien swapped points before Wexford pushed 10 points clear courtesy of Jacob’s late goal. Westmeath goalkeeper Shane McGovern spilled a ball and Jacob reacted quickest to crash it home.
The midlanders’ manager Brian Hanley tried to shake things up by introducing John Gilligan for Eoin Price and switching Paul Greville to centre-forward.
But Westmeath were rocked by the concession of two goals at the start of the second half. Jacob turned provide to set up O’Keefe for a low, drilled finish to the net.
Sinnott added a point and then helped himself to a goal after Jacob’s initial shot was blocked. Now 3-14 to 0-6 adrift, Westmeath were practically out of the Championship.
Credit to the Lakesiders, they never let their heads drop and carve out some decent scoring chances. O’Brien passed for the inrushing Joe Clarke but Wexford stopper Eanna Matin smothered the ball and Clarke conceded a free.
Murtagh followed up with only the visitors’ third wide, but he was bang on target shortly afterwards with a 20-metre free that he rasped past Martin.
Wexford stuttered again when a dangerous ball was sent in for Boyle to flick it to the back of the net and the lead was down to 3-18 to 2-7.
That man Lyng settled Wexford back into their stride, launching over a succession of late points that wrapped up the result. Wexford march on, but Dunne will warn his side of Carlow’s potential ahead of the counties’ meeting here in seven days’ time.