Having started the day bottom of the National Football League Division 2 table; Westmeath earned a fully deserved 1-15 to 0-10 win over Derry to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone.
Pat Flanagan’s men were good value for their eight point win, even if it was secured against 14 men. Having started the day one point above the drop, Derry also survived as both Monaghan and Meath lost with the Royals sensationally dropping down to Division 3.
Derry played with the strong breeze in the first half and led by 0-08 to 0-03 at the interval. Paddy Bradley scored four first half points with Mark Lych and the two McGoldrick’s, Ryan Scott and Enda Lynn also scoring during the opening 35 minutes for the visitors.
The game’s turning point came just after the half time interval when Derry centre back Dermot McBride was sent off by Martin Sludden having been given a second yellow card. Westmeath quickly exploited the visitor’s weak spot registering points from Denis Glennon (2) and Heslin before Caolan O’Boyle made it 0-9 to 0-6.
Substitute James Dolan, star of Garrycastle’s run to the All-Ireland club final, collected a pass from the superb Glennon and netted to make it 1-11 to 0-10, the Lake County having previously outscored their opponents by eight points to two since the restart.
Glennon was outstanding, scoring four second half points as the the home side turned the screw and secured their required victory with something to spare. Derry will have waited for results from elsewhere but will also have been relieved to have secured division 2 football for next year.