Kerry boss Fintan O’Connor admitted that the soul searching that followed their defeat to Antrim proved the catalyst for Saturday’s sensational Joe McDonagh Cup win away to Westmeath.
He explained: “Kerry people love being underdogs, it takes a bit of pressure off you and that allowed us to perform today.
"After the Antrim defeat we were very disappointed but we poured everything into this game. We questioned everything for the last two weeks, but we showed great character to pull through,”
Westmeath, who had comfortably beaten Offaly, were expected to easily take the Kerry scalp, but two late points fropm the outstanding Shane Conway secured victory for Kerry.
Westmeath manager Joe Quaid made no excuses saying, “Kerry were hungrier than we were and we will make no excuses.
We were beaten by the better team. It is our first defeat this year and this will test our character now.
A tough, tense, physical encounter saw the sides go in level at half time at 0-8 each.
Westmeath were boosted in the first minute of the second half when sub Allan Devine had the game’s opening goal but Kerry shot six unanswered points between the 50th and 60th minutes to squeeze ahead, with Conway hitting four and impact sub Jordan Conway the other two.
A Killian Doyle goal for the hosts in the 62nd minute was wiped out by a Colum Harty effort two minutes later.
The Conways and Harty were all impressive for a Kingdom side that lost influential midfielder Tomás O’Connor to a second yellow card on 65 minutes, but in a titanic battle to the end it was point for point until three minutes into injury time when the excellent Shane Conway popped over two scores to seal a memorable win for the Kingdom.
S Conway 0-13 (0-7 frees, 0-2 from 65’s), C Harty 1-1, J Conway 0-3, P Kelly 0-1, M O’Leary 0-1, J O’Connor 0-1, P Boyle 0-1.
Killian Doyle 1-11 (0-8 frees), A Devine 1-0, D Clinton 0-2, R Greville 0-1, S Clavin 0-1, E Price 0-1.
J B O’Halloran; J O’Connor, B Murphy, S Weir; E Murphy, P Kelly, D Collins; D Goggin, T O’Connor; M O’Leary, S Conway, J Goulding; P Boyle, M Boyle, C Harty.
J Conway for P Kelly (40 mins), M Slattery for D Goggin (61 mins).
C Lynch; D Egerton, T Doyle, G Greville; C Shaw, A Clarke, P Greville; C Boyle, S Clavin; J Boyle, Killian Doyle, R Greville; N Mitchell, D McNicholas, Ciaran Doyle.
D Clinton for N Mitchell (injured, 24 mins), A Devine for Ciaran Doyle (half time), E Price for D McNicholas (half time), S Power for C Shaw (58 mins), J Gilligan for J Boyle (70+3 mins).
Patrick Murphy (Carlow).