Westmeath manager Michael Ryan was most likely the happiest man in Carlow town as he saw his inexperienced side overcome their hosts to come out on top of the round robin stages of the Leinster SHC.

Speaking after a 0-22 to 2-15 win over the Barrowsiders, Ryan admitted that it had been a funny old game.

Before the throw in Carlow were already doomed to a play-off with the winners of the Christy Ring Cup, either Antrim or Meath, while Westmeath had secured their progress to the quarter-finals of the Leinster SHC proper.

Earlier this year Carlow had come out on top when the sides met at Netwatch Cullen Park in Division 2A of the league, but Westmeath reversed that result in the divisional final.

Ryan admitted: "There's never much between Carlow and Westmeath over the years, they’ve been very tight games and that's why I’m delighted we dug this out because there were times when the game was slipping away from us."

A somewhat depleted Carlow side had led for much of the game thanks to a very early goal from Seamus Murphy before Westmeath finally got back in front in the final 15 minutes.

Ryan was happy with the manner of his side’s comeback, but admits they will face greater challenges shortly.

"We got some good points and we drove on at the end but we know that game is over now and there’s a huge challenge coming up in two weeks time but there’s also a huge opportunity."

As round robin winners, Westmeath will now welcome Galway to Cusack Park.

Had they finished second in the group stage, as Offaly ultimately did, they would instead face Laois.

While most pundits would be of the opinion the reward for a second place finish would be greater, Ryan was not so sure.

"Laois beat us by six or seven points a few weeks ago [in a promotion/relegation play-off] so there's no reason to suggest Laois would be any easier. Whoever you get you get.

"We'll prepare well, we have two weeks to get ready. We know there's a lot of aspects of our game we've got to improve and we know if we do that and produce our best performance on the day in Cusack Park who knows what can happen."

The sides that progress from the round robin stages are guaranteed home advantage for their quarter-finals, setting up the prospect of Galway playing championship hurling in Mullingar.

While Ryan admits this will be an advantage, it is not the be all and end all.

"We're always hard to beat at home, but having said that the home venue won't win the match for us.

"It's all about our performance, what we do when the ball is thrown in. We'll prepare well and look forward to it."