Roscommon reeled off their third successive win in Division 2 to leave themselves with every chance of returning to the top flight following a routine victory against Westmeath at Dr Hyde Park.
Conor Cox made his first competitive start of the season and the former Kerry player ended up with 0-6 overall to leave the Rossies top of the table heading into their final two games, away to Armagh and Cavan.
“There’s very little between the teams. There’s nothing in it, between top and bottom. But, from our point of view, we really, really want to have a right go at the next two matches (against Armagh and Cavan),” said Rossies boss Anthony Cunningham.
“Guys flourish from league matches. We’re trying to see a few more players on a weekly basis. It’s good to have Conor Cox and Conor Hussey back. We want to get more game time into more players and then work on our game to improve.”
The game’s defining score arrived after 20 minutes. Enda Smith made headway towards goal before setting up Conor Daly who palmed the ball into the empty net.
Westmeath struggled for any traction close to goal as their key player John Heslin was well marshalled by a solid Roscommon defence.
Four points towards the end of the half from Donie Smith (a hat-trick of frees) and Cox left the home side in command at the break, 1-9 to 0-3 to the good.
Enda Smith smashed a second-half penalty off the crossbar, albeit there was the consolation of a point from the rebound for the Boyle player.
But Westmeath could never get going and four out of their nine second-half points came in the final five minutes from Heslin (free), full back Ronan Wallace, and substitutes Lorcan Dolan and Darren Giles, as the home side closed out the game comfortably.
“We want to be up there (in Division 1) and we’ll be doing everything we can to get up there, but we’ll need to get the breaks. We have two very difficult games coming up but we’re up for the fight,” concluded Cunningham.
Scorers for Roscommon: C Cox (0-6, 3 frees, 1 mark); D Smith (0-5, 4 frees); C Daly (1-0); C McKeon, C Cregg, N Kilroy, C Lennon, E Smith (0-1 each).
Scorers for Westmeath: J. Heslin (3 frees), R. O’Toole (0-3 each); L. Loughlin, D. Corroon, R. Connellan, R. Wallace, L. Dolan, D. Giles (0-1 each).
ROSCOMMON: C. Lavin; D. Murray, C. Daly (1-0), M. Richardson; N. Daly, B. Stack, C. Hussey; T. O’Rourke, E. Smith; N. Kilroy, C. McKeon, H. Darcy; D. Smith, C. Cox, Cathal Cregg.
Subs used: C. Compton for C. Cregg (50), C. Lennon (0-1) for D. Smith (56), F. Cregg for Darcy (58), P. Scott for Hussey (64), R. Hughes for Scott (69), D. Ruane for McKeon (70).
WESTMEATH: J. Daly; A. McGivney, K. Maguire, B. Sayeh; K. Daly, R. Wallace, D. Lynch; R. Connellan (0-1), D. Corroon; S. Duncan, R. O’Toole, J. Dolan; L. Loughlin, J. Heslin, C. McCormack.
Subs used: T. McDaniel for McCormack (48), C. Coughlan for Lynch (48), C. Slevin for McGivney (59), L. Dolan for Connellan (67), D. Giles for Duncan (69).
Referee: B. Tiernan (Dublin).