Westmeath 0-10 Carlow 0-08

Westmeath failed to score in the closing 28 minutes, but claimed Division 2A Hurling League honours, with a 0-10 to 0-08 win over Carlow.

In testing weather conditions in Tullamore, the Lake County claimed their first title at this level after a strong first-half display, which saw Brendan Murtagh (0-07) register the visitors' final score of the game, just seven minutes into the second half.

Both sides began brightly, with Westmeath shading a 0-04 to 0-03 lead in the 14th minute, following Marty Kavanagh's third point of the game for Carlow.

The St Mullins clubman wouldn't score again over the reminder of this contest, and indeed it took a further 37 minutes for his team-mates to add to that tally, as Westmeath kicked on on the score-board.

Thanks to Murtagh's free-taking, and points from play from Cormac Boyle and Eoin Price, Westmeath led by 0-09 to 0-03 at the turn-around, but came under strong pressure on the restart.

Murtagh's seventh point extended Westmeath's lead to seven points after 42 minutes, but this was their final score.

Carlow pressed hard, with Leaving Cert Student Kevin McDonald impressive from placed balls, registering four points from frees in the second half. 

However, Pat English's side rued eight second-half wides, as Westmeath took the honours and a place in the promotion play-off against Kerry or Laois.

Both sides had faced off last weekend in their final group game when Carlow ended Westmeath's 100% record in the competition with a 0-20 to 1-15 win.

There was no sign of that high-scoring prowess at O'Connor Park, however, with weather conditions testing, and the bulk of the scoring confined to placed balls.

Westmeath piled all on all the early pressure, and led by 0-03 to 0-01 after four minutes, and could have had an early goal to their credit, but for a well placed block by Carlow goalkeeper Jack Barron, which was deflected out for a 65, which Murtagh converted.

Despite playing into the wind, Marty Kavanagh kept the Barrowsiders in touch, but Westmeath were strong also defensively.

A Kavanagh effort was quickly cleared up-field in the 13th minute, and converted to a score, after some lovely ground hurling, saw Boyle hand Westmeath a 0-04 to 0-02 lead.

Kavanagh cut the gap to the minimum again soon after, and while Westmeath finished the half with six wides, Carlow weren't to score again until deep into the second half.

Murtagh added four further points from placed balls before the break, while Price was on target from play to ensure a 0-09 to 0-03 interval lead.

Carlow piled on pressure on the restart, but after 15 minutes of second half action, they added seven wides to their tally.

Scores were at a premium, but James Doyle finally broke Carlow's dead-lock for a first score in 37 minutes to ensure a 0-10 to 0-04 score-line.

18-year-old Kevin McDonald was hugely impressive from placed balls and, following a fourth pointed free of the half, the Mount Leinster Rangers clubman cut the gap to two points in injury-time.

Carlow needed a goal to snatch victory but it never arrived, as referee John Keane's full-time whistle ensured rare silverware for Westmeath, and a potential crack at 1B hurling in 2017 - facing the losers of next week's Laois-Kerry playoff in a fortnight's time.

WESTMEATH: Paddy Maloney; Shane Power, Tommy Doyle, Tommy Gallagher; Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke, Alan McGrath; Cormac Boyle (0-1), Gary Greville; Alan Devine (0-1), Liam Varley, Derek McNicholas; Robbie Greville, Brendan Murtagh (0-7, 5f, 2 '65s'), Eoin Price (0-1). Subs: Niall O’Brien for Derek McNicholas (23); Niall Dowdall for Robbie Greville (57); Darragh Egerton for Alan Devine (61).

CARLOW: Jack Barron; Gerard Coady Michael Ryan, Alan Corcoran; Diarmuid Byrne, David English, James O’Hara; James Doyle (0-1), Jack Kavanagh; Kevin McDonald (0-4, 4f), Martin Kavanagh (0-3, 2f), Sean Murphy; John Michael Nolan, Seamus Murphy, Sean Whelan. Subs: Richard Kelly for Sean Whelan (HT); Ross Smithers for Sean Murphy (49).

REFEREE: John Keane (Galway)