A Joe Halligan goal proved the difference as Westmeath defeated Wexford in Saturday's Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup senior football opening round tie at St. Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy.
Those in the sparse crowd were keeping a watchful eye for new boss Paul Galvin but the Wexford supremo took his place in the stand, handing over the reigns to U20 manager Brendan Kehoe whose charges made up the majority of players on show.
Kehoe was pleased with his side showing believing it was a game they could have won. "Following the goal setback we controlled the game for the remainder of the half going in two points ahead, but only managing two second-half points was simply not good enough. Still, I was pleased with the showing of the U20 players."
After the sides traded early points Halligan's goal gave his the visitors a 1-2 to 0-2 lead. Tom Byrne and Colum Feeney led the Wexford fightback and they led (0-9 to 1-4) at the interval.
Westmeath opened the second half impressively with three early points through Callum McCormack (2) and Conor McCormack to edge ahead.
Wexford failed to score until the 60th minute with a sub, Shane Pettitt nailing a point. But it was Westmeath who finished the game with points from subs Lorcan Dolan and Stephen Connolly to secure the victory.
WEXFORD: P Doyle; L O’Connor, J Rossiter, A Lynch; N Murphy, R Barron, T Rossiter; N Hughes, G Malone (0-2); C Feeney (0-4 frees), C Devitt, T Byrne (0-2); D Pepper, S Forde, S Ryan (0-2).
Subs: C Carty for Forde (24); D Lyons for N Hughes (31), R Brooks for Pepper (40), S Pettitt (0-1) for Feeney (51); D Redmond for Ryan (64); Feeney for Devitt (64); R Cody for O’Connor (67); K Pierce for Lynch (67); C Cooney for Lyons (69); D Kehoe for Murphy (69); A Larkin for Doyle (70).
WESTMEATH: J Daly; J Smith, B Sayeh, C Coughlan; A McGivney, N Mulligan, D Lynch; A Stone, N Harte; K Martin (0-3), Conor McCormack (0-3, 0-1 free), N O’Reilly; T J Cox, Callum McCormack (0-2, 0-1 free), J Halligan (1-0).
Subs: L Dolan (0-2) for Cox (52); C Dillon for O’Reilly (54); S McCartan for Conor McCormack (59); D Corroon for Stone (59);S Connolly (0-1) for Halligan (66);P Doherty for Callum McCormack (70).
Referee: S Mulhare (Laois).