Seven unanswered second-half points propelled Westmeath to Division 2A glory and, in the process, guaranteed the Lake County hurlers top flight league fare in 2020.
Westmeath took their time to reel in a five-point half-time deficit, a final quarter charge yielding seven-in-a-row which took them first across the line with two to spare.
Killian Doyle was particularly prominent during this burst, throwing over three points, while sub Derek McNicholas was responsible for the two points which brought Westmeath level on 59 minutes and edged them in front a minute later.
Tellingly, Kerry managed only one second-half point, that a 46th minute Padraig Boyle point.
Kerry had the backing of a gale in the first-half but would have been disappointed with an opening half effort that saw them lead by just 0-9 to 0-4 at the break. Kerry’s ploy of pumping high ball in on top of their full-forward line reaped very little dividend, with Westeamth full-back Tommy Doyle churning in a fine first 35 minutes.
Westmeath sweeper Aonghus Clarke was another influential figure in the opening half and the Kerry management may have been better served pushing up their spare man at midfield onto Clarke to limit the latter’s influence as an outlet for a busy Westmeath defence. Certainly, Kerry made life somewhat easy for Clarke by striking a number of aimless deliveries in his direction.
The Lake County, despite facing into the elements, began the brighter and went two ahead through Niall Mitchell (free) and Killian Doyle. The latter was their sole point from play in the opening half and they’d go scoreless for the next 12 minutes.
For Kerry, Shane Conway was responsible for six of their first-half tally of 0-9, with Jack Goulding also chipping in with a glorious sideline. Their five-point interval lead was by no means an insurmountable target for Westmeath to chase and so it proved.
Scorers for Westmeath: K Doyle (0-5, 0-2 frees); N Mitchell (0-3, 0-3 frees); D McNicholas (0-2); A Devine, D Clinton (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry: S Conway (0-6, 0-4 frees); P Boyle (0-2); J Goulding (0-1 sc), D Collins (0-1 each).
Kerry: JB O’Halloran; J O’Connor, B Murphy, S Weir; P Costello, J Diggins, F Mackessy; D Collins, B Barrett; P Doyle, S Conway, M O’Leary; J Goulding, M Boyle, J Conway.
Subs: D Goggin for M Boyle (51 mins, inj); T O’Connor for Costello (61); D Griffin for J Conway (66); J Buckley for Weir (73).
Westmeath: A McHugh; G Greville, T Doyle, C Shaw; P Greville, D Egerton, S Clavin; A Clarke, C Boyle; J Boyle, K Doyle, R Greville; A Devine, D Clinton, N Mitchell.
Subs: D McNicholas for Mitchell (44); J Galvin for Clinton (54); A Craig for P Greville (66); C Doyle for J Boyle (72).
Referee: R McGann (Clare).