“I’m delighted for the lads and for everyone involved in Westmeath hurling, they had to show tremendous character to come through a late fight back from Carlow,” he said afterwards, as his defence held firm to extend their league record to six consecutive clean sheets.
Strong winds and squally showers prevailed at the Offaly venue for this encounter and Westmeath had the aid of the breeze in the opening half, though Carlow hung in well and trailed by just the odd point in seven after 15 minutes, their cause aided by some poor shooting from the midlanders.
It wasn’t until the last five minutes of the half that Westmeath powered on to build a 0-9 to 0-3 interval lead and when Brendan Murtagh struck a fine ’65 to extend that lead further after 42 minutes, the Lake County looked to be in control of the contest.
That was to be their last score as Carlow ended their 35-minute scoring drought with a James Doyle point, a powerful drive from a tight angle deflected over the crossbar by Paddy Maloney, and having broken that run they gradually began to chip away at the deficit with a series of Kevin McDonald frees.
Just a goal remained between the sides as the game entered the closing 10 minutes. While there was plenty of time and opportunity to gain parity, terrible shooting hindered Carlow as they accumulated eight second-half wides.
Time and again Carlow sent high deliveries into the Westmeath full-back line as they chased the goal they needed to retrieve their prospects, but all too often they found man-of the-match Tommy Doyle too good under the dropping ball, while Westmeath captain Aonghus Clarke made a late intervention when he dived to block a James Doyle shot on goal from a tight angle.
B Murtagh (0-7, 5 frees, 2 ‘65s); A Devine, E Price & C Boyle (0-1 each)
K McDonald (0-4f); M Kavanagh (0-3, 2 frees); J Doyle (0-1)
P Moloney; T Gallagher, T Doyle, S Power; A Craig, A Clarke, A McGrath; G Greville, C Boyle; L Varley, D McNicholas, R Greville; A Devine, B Murtagh, E Price. Subs: N O’Brien for McNicholas (23), N Dowdall for R Greville (57), D Egerton for Devine (61)
J Barron; A Corcoran, M Ryan, G Coady; D Byrne, D English, J O’Hara; J Kavanagh, M Kavanagh; Seán Murphy, JM Nolan, K McDonald; J Doyle, Seamus Murphy, S Whelan.
R Kelly for Whelan (ht), R Smithers for Seán Murphy (49)
Referee: John Keane (Galway)