By John Fogarty
A gut-busting first-half display by Kildare was integral to them picking up two early away points at TEG Cusack Park.
With a gale, Kildare managed just three second half points, kicking eight wides, but then Westmeath failed to notch a score from play after the 25th minute.
Backed by a bellowing wind, Westmeath mustered just two points from play in their first half after which they trailed 0-8 to 2-6. Facing such a breeze, it was a massive compliment to Kildare that of their total they registered 2-3 outside of Adam Tyrell’s three frees.
John Heslin had booted over a third long-range free to put the home side one point up when Daniel Flynn soloed from beyond the halfway line through the Westmeath centre before sending the ball to the top left corner. It was a brilliant counterattack goal initiated by a Darryl Flynn interception in the full-back line.
Westmeath recovered well with three points on the trot only to be found wanting again when substitute Cian O’Donoghue charged into their half, performed a give-and-go with Niall Kelly and then placed his shot past Darren Quinn.
Kildare tagged on three more points, Kelly providing one for Cathal McNally and then sending over two of his own, to extend their lead to five. A Kieran Martin free cut the deficit to four in injury-time but the damage had already been done.
Scorers for Westmeath: J Heslin (0-6, frees); K Martin (0-3, frees); G Egan, C McCormack (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kildare: A Tyrell (frees), N Kelly (0-3 each); Daniel Flynn, C O’Donoghue (1-0 each); C McNally (0-2); P Cribbin (0-1).
Subs for Westmeath: R Connellan for S Flanagan, J Egan for S Dempsey (both h-t); D Daly for C McCormack (63); K Daly for A Stone (70+1).
Subs for Kildare: C O’Donoghue for C Fitzpatrick (inj 15); É O’Connor for Daryl Flynn (h-t); P O’Neill for A Tyrell (55); E Callaghan for E O’Flaherty (black, 61); M Sherry for N Flynn (65).
WESTMEATH: D Quinn; D Lynch, K Maguire, J Gonoud; J Dolan, P Holloway, A Stone; D Corroon, S Flanagan; K Martin, P Sharry, G Egan; J Heslin, C McCormack, S Dempsey.
KILDARE: M Donnellan; O Lyons, P Kelly, C Fitzpatrick; J Byrne, F Conway, D Hyland; Daryl Flynn, Daniel Flynn; A Tyrell, E O’Flaherty, P Cribbin; N Flynn, N Kelly, C McNally.
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan)