Westmeath had needed a desperately late John Heslin free to secure a second bite at the cherry against Offaly, and they made sure it wasn’t wasted by finishing the job in Mullingar.
Westmeath’s reward for their 3-17 to 0-15 victory is the dubious honour of a Leinster semi-final clash with Dublin at Croke Park next weekend, while for Offaly it’s the qualifiers and a meeting with Cavan in Tullamore.
Offaly have eight days to get over this defeat, knowing that they had the chance to put this quarter-final to bed at Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park first time around, and weren’t without their chances in Mullingar as well.
But the reality is they only have themselves to blame; reduced to 13-men at Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park before Heslin struck deep into injury time, they lost Cian Donohoe in Saturday’s replay to a second bookable offence with 12 minutes plus stoppage time still to play.
It proved to be the game’s defining moment, leaving Offaly to once again rue their ill-discipline.
The Faithful County had all the momentum after kicking three points in a row with the wind at their backs to move within three points of Westmeath, only to concede 2-3 following Donohoe’s departure.
Four minutes after Donohue received his marching orders, the tie was as good as over as Heslin beat Alan Mulhall at his near post to goal. Heslin then fed Kieran Martin for another tap in goal to add the icing.
Beaten by Dublin in the last two Leinster’s finals, Westmeath will have the chance for revenge at Croke Park on Sunday, as they look for a first Leinster title since 2004.
“I think we need things to go right, but we have a better panel this year. Today was massive for us; local derbies are really tough games,” said Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin.
The downside for Westmeath was the loss to injury of Paddy Holloway, Callum McCormack and Denis Glennon, all of whom now face a race against time to be fit to face Dublin.
Scorers for Westmeath: J Heslin 1-6 (0-2f), K Martin 1-2, P Sharry 0-3 (0-2 ‘45s), J Egan 1-0, F Boyle 0-2, C McCormack, G Egan, N Mulligan & T McDaniel 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: N Dunne 0-5 (0-3f), P Cunningham 0-4, S Doyle 0-2, G Guilfoyle, N Darby (f), M Brazil & C McNamee 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH: D Quinn; J Gonoud, K Maguire, K Daly; J Dolan, P Holloway, M McCallon; G Egan, A Stone; K Reilly, P Sharry, A Gaughan; K Martin, J Heslin, C McCormack. Subs: F Boyle for Holloway (5), D Glennon for McCormack (35+2), J Egan for Reilly (HT), T McDaniel for Glennon (48), D Lynch for Stone (50), N Mulligan for Daly (51 – temp), Mulligan for Gaughan (69).
OFFALY: A Mulhall; B Darby, E Rigney, S Pender; N Darby, P Cunningham, C Donohoe; C McNamee, D Hanlon; N Dunne, J Moloney, M Brazil; R Allen, G Guilfoyle, N McNamee. Subs: J Lalor for N Darby (HT), B Allen for N McNamee (41), A Sullivan for Brazil (48), J O’Connor for Rigney (55), S Doyle for Moloney (58), D Hogan for Hanlon (70+2).
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