14-man Westmeath came back from the dead as late points from half backs Donal O'Donoghue and Michael Ennis saw them defeat Limerick 0-13 to 1-09 in Mullingar.
A 20th-minute goal from Micheal Reidy helped the Shannonsiders race into a seven-point lead (1-05 to 0-01). Skipper Muiris Gavin kicked four points with Limerick still 1-06 to 0-06 ahead at the break.
The hosts lost defender James Davitt to a straight red card in the 51st-minute but they fought back to level late through O’Donoghue. The fit-again Dessie Dolan kicked five points in all, and Ennis hit over the winner in injury-time. Limerick substitute Johnny Murphy had a late chance to send the game into extra-time, but he missed a last-gasp free from a tight angle.
During the first quarter of an hour, Limerick looked an altogether different side to the one that bowed out of the Munster championship to Cork in such disappointing fashion last month.
Gavin kicked three frees, Seanie Buckley was also on target as Limerick led 0-04 to 0-01 after 18 minutes. Alan Mangan picked out Dolan for Westmeath’s opening point in the ninth-minute.
Reidy added a '45 to Limerick's tally before collecting a Michael Crowley pass and netting past Gary Connaughton only moments later.
Amazingly Limerick should have had a second goal but wing back Andrew Lane failed to show the necessary composure when baring down on Connaughton.
Gavin did add another free before the half was out, but Westmeath ominously moved to within three points by the short whistle at 0-06 to 1-06 down. Joe Fallon, whose afternoon was ended by an ankle injury, Ennis, Dolan (0-02) helped the midlanders claw back into it.
The first four points of the second half were shared with Darren Horan and Gavin on target for Limerick with Mangan and substitute John Connellan replying.
Davitt was then banished on a straight red card as he was dismissed for a heavy challenge on Crowley. Gavin pointed the resultant free to stretch Limerick’s lead to four but that proved to be their final point.
Dolan clipped over a free from the right flank, the excellent Mangan added two points in quick succession to really rattle Limerick. O’Donoghue then popped up with the leveller in the 70th-minute.
Sensing the victory and never stopping for breath, the Lake men pushed on with Ennis latching onto a ball from Dolan and firing over. Murphy, on for Reidy, reeled away in disappointment as his 20-metre free dropped wide and with that Limerick’s championship run was at an end.
Westmeath: G Connaughton; F Boyle, B Nannery, J Keane; M Ennis (0-02), D O’Donoghue (0-01), G Glennon; D Duffy, P Bannon; G Duffy, D Healy, A Mangan (0-03); J Fallon (0-01 (1f)), D Dolan (capt) (0-05 (4f)), D Glennon.
Subs used: J Connellan (0-01) for Fallon (35+2 mins), D Heavin for G Duffy (half time), J Davitt for Boyle (47), J Durkin for Connellan (70).
Limerick: S Kiely; S Gallagher, J McCarthy, P Browne; A Lane, S Lavin, C Mullane; J Galvin, T Carroll; J Cooke, D Horan (0-01), S Buckley (0-01); M Crowley, M Gavin (capt) (0-06 (4f)), M Reidy (1-01 (1 ’45)).
Subs used: J Murphy for Reidy (53 mins), D Reidy for Crowley (67), J Stokes for Gavin (70+1).
Referee: Pat McGovern (Galway).