Allianz NHL Division 1 relegation play-off
Westmeath 1-17 Carlow 2-8
Killian Doyle scored 1-14 as Westmeath retained their Division 1 status and in the process relegated Carlow back to Division 2A for next season.
Playing against the strong wind, the Lake County led 1-8 to 0-4 at half time, with Doyle scoring a 20th-minute goal with a low crisp shot.
Westmeath, with Doyle, Aonghus Clarke and Eoin Price to the fore, looked set for a comfortable victory when leading 1-15 to 0-8 with 10 minutes remaining.
However, a penalty converted by Carlow’s Martin Kavanagh and a bizarre goal by Carlow’s Diarmuid Byrne, who blocked down a clearance by Aonghus Clarke, set up a tense finish.
When it counted though a far superior Westmeath responded and two late points from Doyle, including a sublime sideline ball, sealed the win.
Westmeath manager Shane O’Brien said: “We are delighted to be able to look forward to playing in Division 1 next year. We made great progress this year and we can’t underestimate the significance of this win for the development of Westmeath hurling.
“We have a hugely talented group of players and our team play today was excellent. Our first-half performance against the wind was superb”.
Carlow boss Colm Bonnar didn’t hide his upset: “We are hugely disappointed. The results don’t lie. We never really gave a performance in any of our league games to say we were there or thereabouts.
“We were second to most of the teams in the group and again today. Our lads can play better but we were just flat and Westmeath wanted it more”.
Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle (1-14, 0-10 frees, 0-1 sideline ball, 0-1 ’65), D McNicholas (0-1), S Clavin (0-1), D Clinton (0-1).
Scorers for Carlow: M Kavanagh (1-3, 1 penalty, 0-3 frees), D Byrne (1-1), C Nolan (0-3, 2 frees), J Kavanagh 0-1.
WESTMEATH: A McHugh; D Egerton, T Doyle, C Shaw; A Craig, A Clarke, S Clavin; R Greville, C Boyle; N Mitchell, Killian Doyle, E Price; D Clinton, D McNicholas, J Galvin.
Subs: L Varley for A Craig (ht), J Boyle for D McNicholas (45), J Coll for J Galvin (49), A Ennis for D Egerton (53), J Gilligan for D Clinton (66).
CARLOW: D Jordan; G Bennett, P Doyle, M Doyle; A Corcoran, D English, R Smithers; K McDonald, A Amond; John Michael Nolan, M Kavanagh, J Kavanagh; T Joyce, D Byrne, C Nolan.
Subs: Jon Nolan for John Michael Nolan (inj, 18), E Byrne for T Joyce (45), P Coady for J Kavanagh (55), R Coady for G Bennett (61), S Whelan for D Byrne (64).
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny).