Neither team did anything to quell the widely-held opinion that both have a fight on their hands to avoid returning to Division 3, from which they emerged after last year’s campaign. But Keenan was supreme at midfield, enhancing the reputation that won him an All Star two years ago.
Playing his 100th competitive match for his county, he made a telling contribution in the battle for midfield supremacy in the company of Brian Donnelly, but there was more to his game than that. He scored four points from play and late on made a brilliant goal-line catch, followed by an interception, as Westmeath chased the goal they so badly needed.
Keenan’s display was lauded by none other than Westmeath manager Pat Flanagan.
“He is a very special player, and he made the difference,” said Flanagan, as his team included just four players who started last year’s league and none of the Garrycastle squad.
Keenan himself was not taking it as a given that Louth are going to be relegated: “Yes, ourselves and Westmeath are seen as relegation fodder.
“That was an important game, and we could only do what was asked of us. We have a tough programme ahead of us, but we’ll go into each game with no fear.”
A poor first half ended with Westmeath showing a point ahead, 1-3 to 0-5, the goal, a beautifully-executed effort, finished by Callum McCormack. That lead was extended early in the second half, with a point from Kieran Martin.
But then Louth went on a match-winning roll, scoring six points, three of them coming from Keenan, whose partner, Brian White, brought all of his Australian Rules experience to bear in aerial clashes.
There could have been more scores but too many shots were dropped short, Westmeath’s own All Star goalkeeper Gary Connaughton handling them in his usual efficient manner.
Westmeath rallied towards the end getting to within a couple of points with scores from Alan Giles but they needed a goal. However, Man of the Match Keenan was there to see that it wouldn’t come.
Scorers for Louth: P Keenan, D Clarke 0-4 (3fs), R Carroll 0-2, L Shevlin, A Hoey 0-1 each.
Scorers for Westmeath: C McCormack 1-1, K Martin, A Giles 0-2 each, T English 0-1.
LOUTH: N Gallagher; G Hoey, D Finnegan, R Greene; R Finnegan, D Crilly, L Shevlin; P Keenan, B Donnelly; J McEneaney, R Carroll, A Reid; D Maguire, J Califf, D Clarke.
Subs: P Rath for Greene, A Hoey for Califf, A McDonnell for Maguire, D Reid for McEneaney, S Fitzpatrick for D Finnegan.
WESTMEATH: G Connaughton; M Curley, K Gavin, D McDermott; R Foley, M Ennis, K Maguire; T English, A Finnan; K Martin, A Giles, P Sheridan; P Sharry, D Glennon, C McCormack.
Subs: P Bannon for Glennon; J Egan for Sheridan; C Sheridan for English.
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).