WESTMEATH boss Stephen Maxwell expressed his relief as the Lake county survived in Division 1 of the Lidl Ladies National Football League while Kerry suffered relegation to the second tier.
“It is a weight off of our shoulders,” he said after the crucial bottom of the table tie.
“We made hard work of it this year. We had some massive performances and left the final result behind us.
“We should have beaten Dublin, we could possibly have beaten Mayo but at the end of the day we are in Division 1 next year and that’s where everyone wants to be.
“I thought we were the better team and deserved the win today.”
Westmeath – who were crowned Division 2 champions last year – showed great hunger with Fiona Claffey hitting the all-important goal before half-time to send them on their way to retaining their top flight status.
Elsewhere, Cork’s dream for six in-a-row lives on as the Rebelettes defeated Galway in Clonberne. Orla Finn bagged 1-5 for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side while Mourneabbey duo Ciara O’Sullivan and Máire O’Callaghan both rattled the net in the second half.
All is not lost for the Tribeswomen yet though with two last four slots still up for grabs between themselves, Mayo and Donegal.
While pleased with his own side’s outcome, Fitzgerald noted his disappointment with the dropping of their Munster rivals to the second tier.
“I personally don’t like to see Kerry being relegated,” he said.
“Because (Kerry being competitive) it’s good for us. It’s good for competition in Munster.
“They’ve been a very traditional Ladies Gaelic football team for over a vast number of years. But the rules are there. It is what it is and you just have to get on with it.”
Mick Bohan’s Dublin bounced back to winning ways as they fired five goals past Monaghan in a 19-point drubbing in Clones.
Nicole Owens, Niamh McEvoy, Sinead Aherne, Lyndsey Davey and Rebecca McDonnell all raised green flags for the Sky Blues while 2017 Player of the Year Noelle Healy put in a solid shift and was on target with four points from play.
And in Saturday’s sole Division 1 fixture, 2017 All-Ireland finalists Mayo came out on top by five points as they hosted Donegal in a high-scoring thriller.
Geraldine McLaughlin’s 2-5 wasn’t enough for the reigning Ulster champions as the Westerners showed nine different scorers in a crucial victory.
In Division 2, the situation is similar with two semi-final spots to be filled next weekend. Tipperary and Waterford both sealed their progression, with Cavan, Tyrone and Armagh set to do battle for the remaining places.
Shane Ronayne’s Tipperary maintained their 100% record as they capped a difficult few days following the death of former player Rachel Kenneally with a win over Clare.
There were also wins for Waterford, Cavan and Tyrone as the latter two prepare for a massive showdown in the final round of fixtures.
As it stands, the top four slots in Division 3 are decided while Leitrim have been relegated.
Unbeaten Wexford, Meath, Down and Kildare have all sealed their spots, with the Lilywhites edging Roscommon out of contention.
In Division 4, Wicklow maintained their 100% record with a win over Louth.
Both sides are through to the semi-finals along with Limerick, while either Antrim or Fermanagh will join them.
Lidl Ladies National League Division 1
Kerry 1-6 Westmeath 1-12
Galway 1-11 Cork 3-12
Monaghan 0-11 Dublin 5-15
Mayo 5-14 Donegal 4-12
Lidl Ladies National League Division 2
Laois 2-8 Tyrone 4-12
Armagh 2-8 Waterford 2-9
Cavan 8-18 Sligo 0-4
Clare 3-7 Tipperary 2-12
Lidl Ladies National League Division 3
Offaly 3-9 Meath 4-9
Roscommon 2-7 Kildare 2-11
Down 2-8 Wexford 3-11
Leitrim CONC Longford 0-0
Lidl Ladies National League Division 4
Louth 0-7 Wicklow 0-12
Limerick 2-6 Fermanagh 0-5
Carlow 1-4 Antrim 3-13
Derry 0-0 Kilkenny CONC