Cavan came from five points - and a man - down in the 50th minute to win a topsy-turvy game in ideal conditions at Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday evening by a flattering four points.
Cavan opened the scoring with a great point by centre-back Ciaran Brady in the third minute, but Westmeath went on to dominate possession and scored six unanswered six points between the sixth and 18th minutes via Ray Connellan, Ronan O'Toole, Jack Smith, Callum McCormack and two John Heslin frees.
During this period a player from either side was black-carded – Stephen Smith of Cavan in the ninth minute and Westmeath's Anthony McGivney seven minutes later.
The home team trailed by 0-6 to 0-2 when corner back Paddy Meade was red-carded in the 25th minute. McCormack had a 'goal’ disallowed in the 28th minute for a foul on Raymond Galligan, after the Cavan goalie had saved the Westmeath corner forward’s initial palmed effort.
Denis Corroon became the third player to do time in the ‘sin bin’ in the second last minute of normal time. A great point from Lorcan Dolan with the last kick of the first half left his side ahead by 0-8 to 0-3 at the break.
Remarkably, Cavan were on level terms within eight minutes of the resumption of play with points from half-time subs Stephen Murray and Thomas Galligan, and one each from James Smith, Galligan (‘45’) and Padraig Faulkner.
The visitors then took control again with sub Luke Loughlin making an instant impression by scoring 1-2 in a four-minute spell. Westmeath looked set to win their first National League match in Cavan in 60 years when they led by 1-11 to 0-8 after 50 minutes.
However, a fired-up home team outscored their opponents by 1-9 to 0-2 in the time remaining. O’Toole became the third Westmeath player to be black-carded in the 65th minute, and John Heslin picked up a brace of yellow cards late on and he was duly dismissed in the first minute of added-time, at which point his side still led by 1-13 to 0-15.
However, a point apiece from Galligan (a 45-metre free) and the outstanding Brady - his third of the night - either side of a bundled goal by another sub Christopher Conroy, garnered two precious points for Mickey Graham’s charges.
Cavan: R Galligan (0-02, 0-01f, 0-01‘45’); P Meade, P Faulkner (0-01), K Brady (0-01); G Smith, C Brady (0-03), O Kiernan (0-01); B Kelly, G McKiernan (0-01); S Smith, M Reilly, E Doughty (0-01); O Pierson (0-02, 0-01f), B Magee, J Smith (0-01).
Subs: T Galligan (0-02) for Kelly (half-time), S Murray (0-01) for S Smith (half-time), L Fortune for J Smith (50), R Connolly (0-01) for Magee (66), C Conroy (1-00) for Faulkner (68).
Westmeath: E Carberry; J Smith (0-1), R Wallace, B Sayeh; P Holloway, K Maguire, A McGivney; D Corroon, R Connellan (0-02); J Dolan, J Heslin (0-04f) , D Lynch; C McCormack (0-01), R O’Toole (0-01), L Dolan (0-01). Subs: L Loughlin (1-03) for L Dolan (44), N Mulligan for Holloway (52), J Halligan for McCormack (66).
Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim).