Westmeath guaranteed themselves Division One football for 2014 at icy-cold Cusack Park, Mullingar with a hard-earned one-point win over Armagh in a terrific game of football.
Tit-for-tat scoring was the order of the day for the first quarter.
The wind-assisted Orchard County men led by the bare minimum (0-6 to 0-5) after 29 minutes, but they finished the half strongly with four unanswered points from Stefan Forker (three – including two frees) and Aaron Kernan (a free), leaving them 0-10 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
Pat Flanagan's men played wonderful football early in the second half and they had equalised by the 42nd minute, courtesy of points from Kieran Martin, Denis Glennon (two), Callum McCormack and Ger Egan. Marquee substitute Dessie Dolan made an instant impact for the home team with a delightful brace of points, and his side led by 0-13 to 0-12 by the 50th minute.
However, Paul Grimley's charges continued to battle bravely against the elements and the teams were tied at 0-15 apiece with 10 minutes remaining.
John Heslin (a 50-metre free) restored Westmeath's lead, but Stefan Forker equalised with a great point under pressure in the 61st minute.
Westmeath wasted some good opportunities, before John Heslin kept his cool to slot over a free in the second minute of injury-time.
With just seconds remaining, Aaron Kernan missed a tricky free which would have earned his side a draw.
WESTMEATH: G Connaughton; M McCallon, K Gavin, K Maguire; M Curley, J Gaffey, J Dolan; D Duffy, J Heslin (0-5, 5f); K Martin (0-2, 1f), C McCormack (0-3), D Corroon; G Egan (0-1), C Curley, D Glennon (0-4). Subs: D Dolan (0-2) for C Curley (46), P Sharry for Corroon (58), D Harte for M Curley (70).
ARMAGH: P McEvoy; F Moriarty, B Donaghy, D McKenna; A Kernan (0-7, 5f), C McKeever, K Dyas; K Toner, S Harold (0-1); B Mallon, J Hanratty, C Rafferty; T Kernan (0-1), S Forker (0-6, 3f), G McParland. Subs: M Shields for Hanratty (28), C Vernon (0-1) for Mallon (51), J Donnelly for McKenna (52).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).