Westmeath looked doomed for relegation when they trailed Derry 0-8 to 0-1 after 30 minutes. However, a dramatic comeback, aided by the sending off of Derry’s Dermot McBride in the 40th minute, ensured survival for Pat Flanagan’s side.
Derry, who despite this defeat, also maintained their Division 2 status, led by seven points after half an hour thanks to four points from the lively Paddy Bradley and some good scores by Ryan Scott, Barry McGoldrick and Sean Leo McGoldrick.
Just before the break the home side rallied and John Heslin and Kieran Martin pointed to leave Westmeath trailing 0-3 to 0-8 at half time.
However, a sensational turnaround in the second-half delighted the home support. First, Derry’s centre-back Dermot McBride received his second yellow card and was sent off in the 40th minute. Then some fine passing moves resulted in excellent scores for Westmeath as John Heslin, Paul Sharry, Kieran Martin, Daniel McDermott and Denis Glennon all pointed.
Points from Cailean O’Boyle and Sean Leo McGoldrick kept Derry in touch and the sides were level at 0-10 each after 52 minutes.
When Ger Egan set up Denis Glennon for a point in the 54th minute Westmeath had the lead for the first time and they cemented this adavantage with a James Dolan goal from close range two minutes later.
Substitute Callum McCormack added two fine points, while another from Kieran Martin and a late John Heslin free secured Westmeath’s win.
Scorers for Westmeath: J. Heslin (0-4 all from frees), K. Martin (0-4), J. Dolan (1-0), Denis Glennon (0-3), C. McCormack (0-2), P. Sharry (0-1), D. McDermott (0-1).
Derry: P. Bradley (0-4, 0-1 from a free), S.L. McGoldrick (0-2), R. Scott (0-1), B. McGoldrick (0-1), E. Lynn (0-1) C. O’Boyle (0-1 from a free).
WESTMEATH: G. Connaughton; M. Curley, A. Finnan, K. Maguire; D. McDermott, P. Sharry, B. Moran; J. Heslin, P. Bannon; K. Martin, G. Egan, R. Foley; Denis Glennon, David Glennon, M. Ennis.
Subs: C. McCormack for M. Ennis (46 mins), J. Dolan for R. Foley (52).
DERRY: B. Gillis; B. McCallion, C. McKaigue, A. McAlynn; R. Scott, D. McBride, S. L. McGoldrick; B. McGoldrick, PJ McCloskey; P. Bradley, M. Lynch, E. Brown; C. O’Boyle, P. Bradley, E. Lynn.
Subs: E. Bradley for E. Brown (45 minutes), C. Kielt for B. McGoldrick (48 mins), E. McGuickin for C. O’Boyle (57), E. Scullion for B. McCallion (60), L. Moore for E. Lynn (68).
Referee: Martin Sludden (Tyrone).