In a tie of championship like intensity the hosts were forced to hang on in a thrilling final quarter while Offaly were enraged at referee Martin Sludden’s failure to award them a late free with the game in the balance.
Westmeath led at the break (0-12 to 1-6) with Bernard Allen’s fifth minute goal cancelled out by some great points by Paul Greville, Dessie Dolan and Denis Corroon.
After the break further points by Dolan, Paul Sharry and two from Paul Greville saw Westmeath lead 0-16 to 1-7. However Offaly responded superbly and the introduction of Niall Smith at midfield paid dividends. Allen scored his second goal on 53 minutes to set up a thrilling finish. Dessie Dolan replied with two points for the Lake County, with Ciarán McManus and Brian Darby on target for Offaly.
In a pulsating finish both sides had their chances. Offaly were furious at not receiving a free in the dying seconds when Niall McNamee appeared to be fouled but Sludden waved play on and Westmeath broke down field with Fergal Wilson scoring the insurance point, which sealed their place in the Division 3 final.
Scorers for Westmeath: D Dolan (0-6), P Greville (0-5, 0-1 from a free), D Corroon (0-2), P Sharry (0-2), Denis Glennon, David Glennon, C Lynam, F Wilson (0-1) each.
Scorers for Offaly: Bernard Allen (2-0), C McManus (0-4, 0-3 from frees), N McNamee (0-3), T Deehan (0-2, 0-1 from a free), J Reynolds, B Darby (0-1).
WESTMEATH: G Connaughton; F Boyle, K Gavin, J Gaffey; G Egan, A Finnan, D Harte; B Murtagh, D Corroon; P Sharry, David Glennon, C Lynam; P Greville, D Dolan, Denis Glennon. Subs: J Dolan for Denis Glennon (inj. 26), K Maguire for J Gaffey (32), K Martin for F Boyle (inj. 52), S Quinn for David Glennon (55), F Wilson for C Lynam (68).
OFFALY: A Mulhall; S Sullivan, S Brady, S Pender; B Darby, K Slattery, J Keane; R Dalton, B Connor; G Guilfoyle, N McNamee, C McManus; T Deehan, J Reynolds, B Allen.
Subs: P Bracken for J Keane (ht), Niall Smith for B Connor (44), J Quinn for S Brady (44), S Ryan for T Deehan (62).
Referee: Martin Sludden (Tyrone).