It was a game decided by Kerry’s ability to score goals at vital junctures but in truth both sides were guilty of bad wides, Kerry amassing 12 while Westmeath managed 10 and also spurned two great goal chances.
The first half skirmishes resulted in a one-point interval advantage for Westmeath (0- 8 to 1-4) with Aodan Boyle blasting the ball to the net in the 17th minute for Kerry’s goal after connecting with a Darragh O’Connell free.
Kerry, buoyed by the introduction of John Griffin, started the second half well and it was in this opening five minute spell that Shane Nolan goaled and also added two points to give Kerry a four point lead.
They were always in control thereafter. The Kerry defence was superb with Tom Murnane outstanding at full back and with John Griffin and Daniel Collins dominant around the middle, the Westmeath attack never threatened except for the efforts of the Damian McNicholas.
Nolan and Seanie Maunsell gave Kerry a six-point lead with just ten minutes left, too much of a gap for Westmeath to bridge though late points from McNicholas (two) and free from Eoin Price kept the home crowd on edge.
Scorers for Kerry: S Nolan 1-7 (0-3 frees, 0-1 ’65), A Boyle 1-1, P Boyle and S Maunsell 0-1 each
Westmeath: D McNicholas 0-4, N O’Brien 0-4 (0-1 free), E Price 0-2 (0-1 free), C Jordan, S Power and J Shaw 0-1 each
KERRY: B Rochford, R Horgan, T Murnane, P O’Keeffe, T Barrett, D Dineen, D O’Connell, D Collins, B Brosnan, B O’Leary, G O’Brien, W O ‘Dwyer, P Boyle , A Boyle , S Nolan
Subs: J Griffin for B Brosnan (29), S Maunsell for G O’Brien (46)
WESTMEATH: P Collins, M Keegan, A McGrath, T Gallagher, E Price, C Jordan, P Gilsenan, R Greville, S Power, J Boyle, J Clarke, A Clarke, D McNicholas, N O’Brien, J Shaw.
Subs: B Leharte for J Boyle (45), D Fennell for N O’Brien (54), C Glennon for J Shaw (65)
Referee: S Hourigan (Limerick).