Down fail to put finals hoodoo to rest as Westmeath battle to Division Three title

Sam McCartan puts in ‘one of the best performances a Westmeath man has given in Croke Park,’ according to manager Des Dolan

National Football League Division Three final: Down 0-13 Westmeath 2-10

This would have been a fine time for Down to put their finals hoodoo to rest, in the year of the 30th anniversary of their last All-Ireland success.

The Mourne County haven’t won a final in either the league or Championship since 1994 and, leading by a point approaching the hour mark, it looked like they were about to reset that record.

They couldn’t rewrite history, though, and the apparent curse continues with Jonathan Lynam’s 60th minute goal for Westmeath, his second of the evening, putting his side in a winning position.

From there, Westmeath kicked on to steal the silverware with a strong finish thanks in no small part to Sam McCartan.


The Mullingar man kicked two late points from 45s, struck four points in total and played a central role with a mazy dribble in that decisive second goal for Westmeath.

“I thought it was an immense performance that he gave, one of the best performances a Westmeath man has given in Croke Park,” was manager Des Dolan’s high praise for McCartan.

Lynam’s two-goal haul was significant too and capped a memorable week for the UCD student who was named on the third level team of the year.

“It’s bonus territory really because the real aim at the start of the year was to get promotion,” said Dolan of taking the Division Three title. “It’s great but it’s over now. We don’t have much opportunity to celebrate because the reality is that the lads will have to get ready immediately for a game next Sunday.”

That game will be against Wicklow in the Leinster SFC while Down will return to action the following weekend against Antrim in the Ulster SFC.

It remains to be seen if Westmeath have captain Kevin Maguire available. He was pulled from the starting lineup and Dolan was coy when questioned afterwards, saying he didn’t know when Maguire would be back.

Truth be told, it was a tense arm wrestle for three quarters of the game with Down narrowly leading at half-time, 0-8 to 1-4.

Lynam’s first goal, when he beat Down goalkeeper John O’Hare in a head to head in the air and fisted in, kept Westmeath in it.

Pat Havern was Down’s principal scorer and finished with 0-7 from frees but they lacked real penetration and kicked too many wides, nine in total.

McCartan took full advantage, setting Lynam away for the crucial second goal and then booming over two points from 45s to set the seal on victory.

Westmeath: J Daly; D Scahill, C Drumm, J Gonoud; S McCartan (0-4, two 45s), J Dolan, D Lynch (0-1); R Connellan, J Lynam (2-0); A McCormack, R O’Toole, C Dillon (0-1); L Loughlin (0-1, one free), S Smith, R Forde (0-3, one free). Subs: S Baker for Smith (45 mins), L Dolan for Loughlin (50), M Whittaker for Dillon (54), N Harte for Gonoud (60), J Heslin for Forde (71).

Down: J O’Hare; R McEvoy, P Fegan, P Laverty; F McElroy, D Magill, C Doherty; P Havern (0-7, seven frees), J Flynn; M Rooney (0-1), L Kerr (0-3), D Guinness; J Guinness, O Murdock (0-1), J McGovern. Subs: O Savage (0-1) for McGovern (39 mins), S Annett for J Guinness (44,) C Francis for McElroy (54), B O’Hagan for Rooney (61), R Mason for Flynn (66).

Referee: B Tiernan (Dublin).