Westmeath battle through to Round 3 of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers

Goals from James Dolan and Joe Halligan did the trick in Mullingar as Westmeath battled through to Round 3 of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.

Westmeath battle through to Round 3 of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers

Westmeath 2-13 - Limerick1-10

Goals from James Dolan and Joe Halligan did the trick in Mullingar as Westmeath battled through to Round 3 of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.

Jack Cooney's men, the O'Byrne Cup and National League Division 3 title holders, surged 10 points clear early in the second-half and relied on that cushion as Limerick rallied.

The visiting Munster outfit reduced the deficit to just four points when they hit 1-2 without reply between the 54th and 62nd minutes but that was as close as they got.

A 64th minute point from Westmeath star John Heslin, who only appeared as a second-half sub, settled the hosts and they held on for only their second qualifier win since 2012.

There was a late insurance score from Ger Egan too who top scored with six points while Boidu Sayeh was strong in defence.

It's the end of the road for Limerick who began the Championship with a surprise win over Tipperary before being knocked out of Munster after a heavy defeat to Cork.

Westmeath supporters in the crowd of around 2,000 groaned beforehand when it was announced that key duo Heslin and Frank Boyle were both out.

Former captain Heslin was named to play at midfield after missing the 1-22 to 0-7 Round 1 win over Waterford with a knock but had to pull out again.

It meant starts for Dublin based duo Tommy McDaniel and Jack Smith, and McDaniel opened the scoring after two minutes.

Westmeath persisted with a short kick-out strategy that got them into bother on a couple of occasions.

But they were generally the better team and fired 1-1 in first-half stoppage time to take a 1-9 to 0-5 lead at the interval.

Egan booted two wides early on and kicked a point attempt short but still converted four points while Kieran Martin boomed over a beauty from the left wing.

Westmeath led 0-8 to 0-5 entering first-half stoppage time when Callum McCormack pointed and, from the kick-out, they won possession and played in Dolan for a fine solo goal.

Halligan hit Westmeath's second goal just 28 seconds into the second-half after being set free by Ronan Wallace.

That left Westmeath 10 points clear and they retained a nine-point advantage mid-way through the half but Limerick rallied impressive in an attempt to save their season.

Their scoring surge climaxed with a Darragh Treacy goal after a barnstorming run but Heslin's introduction was significant and he steadied Westmeath who held on for a six-point win.

Scorers for Westmeath: G Egan (0-6, 0-3f); J Dolan, J Halligan (1-0 each); C McCormack, R O'Toole (0-2 each); J Heslin, K Martin, T McDaniel (0-1 each).

Scorers for Limerick: J Lee (0-6, 5 frees); D Treacy (1-0); D O'Sullivan (1 free), S O'Carroll, I Corbett, G Brown (0-1 each).

WESTMEATH: E Carberry; B Sayeh, K Maguire, J Smith; J Dolan, R Wallace, K Daly; D Corroon, K Martin; D Lynch, G Egan, R O'Toole; T McDaniel, J Halligan, C McCormack.

Subs: J Heslin for McDaniel (39); Sam Duncan for Daly (49); N O'Reilly for O'Toole (59); N Mulligan for McCormack (65); F Boyle for Halligan (72).

LIMERICK: D O'Sullivan; S O'Dea, C McSweeney, B Fanning; T McCarthy, I Corbett, G Brown; D Treacy, T Childs; P de Brun, C Fahy, M Fitzgibbon; J Lee, S O'Carroll, J Naughton.

Subs: A Enright for de Brun (43); Sean McSweeney for C McSweeney (49); P Nash for Naughton (59); P Scanlon for Lee & G Noonan for Brown (67); T Griffin for O'Carroll (71).

Ref: J Molloy (Galway).

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