Westmeath assured themselves of a Croke Park appearance when beating Carlow in this second round Tailteann Cup game at Netwatch Cullen Park.
They got off to the perfect start scoring four points in seven minutes with Luke Loughlin, John Heslin (free), Ronan O'Toole and Sam Duncan all raising white flags in nine minutes. A Darragh Foley free opened the Carlow account.
The lead went out to six when a home attack broke down and Duncan drove forward. His pass to the supporting John Heslin was perfect and the full-forward stroked the ball past Ciaran Cunningham.
Carlow hit back and a delivery into Foley at the edge of the small square caused panic in the Westmeath defence and Josh Moore forced the ball over the line. Carlow were back in the game but the experienced visitors just looked that little bit more assured against rivals who are only developing as a group.
John Heslin was always a threat for the home defence and he ended the half with a total of 1-5.
Luke Loughlin also scored three points from play but Carlow got a huge boost on the stroke of half-time when Niall Hickey latched onto another loose ball in front of the Westmeath goal. He still had it all to do but holding his head he picked his spot in the bottom right hand corner with a brilliant finish. At half-time, Westmeath led 1-10 to 2-5.
Just as they did in the first half, the away side hit the ground running in the second. Sam McCartan scored the first of his three points from play. Ronan O’Toole added another and Jamie Gonoud was also on the mark. Ross Dunphy replied for Carlow but it was going to take something special for them to get back in the contest. Colm Hulton scored his second point of the game and Foley converted two frees to bring Carlow to within two. They still had a chance.
It was then Westmeath showed that bit of extra class. Heslin pointed and this was followed by further scores from Lorcan Dolan (mark) and McCartan.
The eventual winners just had that bit extra in the last quarter.
Shane Clarke got on the scoresheet for Carlow as they tried to rescue the game. A Luke Loughlin free brought his total for the 70 minutes to four points and he made way for TJ Cox with Westmeath applause ringing in his ears.
A Foley free for Carlow with the last kick of the game left only five between them at the end, a margin that probably reflected the difference between the two teams.
Westmeath: Jason Daly; Jack Smith, Charlie Drumm, James Dolan; Jamie Gonoud (0-1), Ronan Wallace, Nigel Harte; Jonathan Lynam, Sam Duncan (0-1); Sam McCartan (0-3), Ronan O’Toole (0-2), David Lynch; Luke Loughlin (0-4 1f), John Heslin (1-9 7fs), Lorcan Dolan (0-1 mark).
Subs: Robbie Forde for Duncan (56), Andy McCormack for Harte (60), Kieran Martin for McCartan (71), TJ Cox for Loughlin (72)
Carlow: Ciaran Cunningham; Liam Roberts, Mikey Bambrick (0-1), Dara Curran; Shane Clarke (0-1), Seanie Bambrick, Conor Doyle (0-1); Niall Hickey (1-0), Jamie Clarke (0-1f); Josh Moore (1-0), Eoghan Ruth, Ross Dunphy (0-2); Conor Crowley, Darragh Foley (0-5fs), Colm Hulton (0-2).
Subs: Shane Buggy for Hickey (60), Cormac Lomax for Doyle (69).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)