By Daragh Small
Leanne Slevin's last ditch free helped Westmeath take a huge step towards the quarter-finals of the TG4 ladies All-Ireland senior championship as they got the better of Waterford at MacDonagh Park in Nenagh.
Westmeath were the better team in the first-half but they didn't take the lead until the 25thminute. Laura Lee Walsh and Aileen Wall exchanged goals before half-time and Westmeath were 1-6 to 1-4 in front at the break.
Aoife Connolly scored Westmeath's second goal after the break but Aileen Wall hit back again and it required Slevin's heroics at the death.
Waterford started better and Maria Delahunty sent over their first point after just two minutes. However that was cancelled out when Leanne Slevin scored a free one minute later.
Delahunty scored again and then for a third time as the powerful Waterford attackers began to wreak havoc, but Westmeath held their nerve.
Annie Dolan and Keeley Corbett Barry traded points before Westmeath wrestled control, took the lead for the first time, and scored 1-3 without reply by the 26thminute.
Slevin pointed a free, Maud Annie Foley added another and Dolan doubled her tally for the day to give Westmeath the advantage. Their goal came in the 26thminute when Walsh waltzed through the Waterford defence and side-footed the ball past Karen Walsh in the Westmeath goal.
Waterford were rocked and trailed by 1-5 to 0-4 before Aileen Wall made a great run up-field and powered her low finish past Kelly Moroney.
Westmeath had five wides in the opening half but they closed the half with the final score, with Aoife Connolly on target from a free.
Westmeath were 1-6 to 1-4 in front at the break and they began to pull clear with point from Slevin and Foley. But their 37thminute goal really put daylight between the teams.
It was a smart move involving Dolan and Walsh, and the latter found Connolly who still had work to do but scored Westmeath's second goal.
Waterford needed to find scores, and Michelle Ryan did the needful with Delahunty's third free meaning they only trailed 2-8 to 1-6. And Kate McGrath reduced the deficit even further.
Aileen Wall scored a second Waterford goal in the 47thminute and were level four minutes later. But Foley hit back to give Westmeath the lead.
Wateford came with a late drive and Delahunty drew the sides level in the 65thminute but three minutes later Slevin secured victory.
Scorers - Westmeath: A Connolly 1-2 (0-1f), L Slevin 0-5 (5f), L L Walsh 1-0, M A Foley 0-3, A Dolan 0-2
Waterford: A Wall 2-0, M Delahunty 0-6 (4f), K Corbett Barry 0-1, M Ryan 0-1, Kate McGrath 0-1, S Ryan 0-1, E Fennell 0-1
Westmeath - K Walsh; L Power, R Dillon, N Feery; F Coyle, J Rogers, C Clarke McMahon; K McDermott, M A Foley; F Claffey, L Slevin, A Dolan; A Connolly, L McCartan, L L Walsh.
Subs: A Jones for McDermott (50), J Maher for Connolly (55), C Blundell for McCartan (62).
Waterford - K Moroney; M Dunford, C McGrath, R Casey; Kate McGrath, Karen McGrath, M McGrath; E Murray, K Corbett Barry; M Wall, G Kenneally, K Murray; A Wall, M Delahunty, M Ryan.
Subs: K A Hogan for K Corbett Barry (30), K Hahessy for Murray (50), S Ryan for Ryan (50), E Fennell for M Wall (56), G Power for Hogan (61).
Ref - John Gallagher (Dublin).