Ben McGauran scored 1-2 in the final stages of this first round Leinster Under-20 Championship tie at St Conleth's Park as Westmeath snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a thrilling finale.

Kildare led by three points on three occasions during a first half that they largely dominated, but Westmeath scored three of the last four points to trail by 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time.

McGauran and Brandon Kelly scored early in the second half for Westmeath to go ahead by a point, but a brilliant score from the left wing by Shane Farrell seemed to regather Kildare's composure.

Eoin Bagnall (2) and Muiris Curtin followed that to push Kildare three ahead but Westmeath showed good spirit to answer back with three in a row themselves, two McGauran frees either side of a mark from Stephen O’Connor.

In a tight game a goal was always going to be crucial and Kildare looked to have positioned themselves well to go and win the game when substitute Neil Aherne sidestepped goalkeeper Michael Lynam and score to make it 1-12 to 0-12.

Kevin O’Sullivan replied with a good score but when Mikey McGovern landed a beauty from the left sideline Kildare looked well set for victory.

However, McGauran finished off an unforgettable night for himself and his team with late burst of a goal and two frees and Westmeath march on into the next round.

Westmeath: Michael Lynam; Josh Gaham, Charlie Drumm, Ciaran Daly, Enda Gaffney, Darragh Seery, Michael Byrne; Jack Murtagh, Ciaran Daly; Shane Flemming 0-1, Kevin O’Sullivan 0-2, Brandon Kelly 0-1, Jack Torpey, Ben McGauren 1-10 (0-10fs), Devin Hill.

Subs: Stephen O’Connor for Flemming 0-1m, 46; Senan Baker for Torpey, 46; Liam Moran for Daly, 49; Jordan McDonnell for Kelly, 49.

Kildare: Cian Burke; Dean O’Donoghue 0-1, Conan Boran, Davy Higgins, Tom Martin 0-1, Paddy McDermott 0-1, Tommy Gill 0-1; Jack Cleary, Luke Killian; Muiris Curtin 0-1f, Paudi Behan, Niall O’Regan 0-1, James Dalton, Aaron Browne, Eoin Bagnall 0-5 (0-3fs).

Subs: Shane Farrell for Browne 0-1, 19; Sean Moore for Higgins, 40; Neil Aherne for Dalton 1-0, 43; Mikey McGovern for Behan, 49 0-1.

Referee: Fintan Piece (Offaly)