Barry O’Mahony opened the scoring for the Kingdom after just 20 seconds, but a wonderful goal from Niall Mitchell some 60 seconds later, after he had made a spectacular catch, put Shane O’Brien’s troops into a lead they never looked like relinquishing.
Former Galway player Davy Glennon was in top form in attack, while midfielder Robbie Greville put in a huge shift at midfield, the duo scoring five and four points respectively from play.
Kerry’s marquee player Shane Conway scored a sublime point from a lineball in the fifth minute but he was generally well shackled in open play by Darragh Egerton.
The Lake County men led by 1-16 to 0-13 when Joey Boyle teed up Ciaran Doyle for his side’s second goal in the 35th minute. Westmeath led by 2-16 to 0-14 at the interval.
Westmeath’s lead was still eight points (2-22 to 0-20) at the second water break, but Fintan O’Connor’s charges came back into contention in the 59th minute when Mikey Boyle found the net at the end of a good move to reduce the deficit to five points.
However, they never looked like depriving Westmeath of a place in the Liam MacCarthy Cup next year, and their tally of 17 wides was to prove costly, with new free-taker Pádraig Boyle, who had a fine game overall, also spurning good opportunities.
Mitchell remained a thorn in the Kerry defence right to the end and his classy point in the fourth minute of added-time was the icing on the cake.
Scorers – Westmeath: N Mitchell 1-4, K Doyle 0-6 (3fs), D Glennon 0-5, C Doyle 1-2, R Greville 0-4, N O’Brien (1f), A Clarke 0-2 each, J Boyle, A Craig, D McNicholas (f) 0-1 each. Kerry: P Boyle 0-7 (3fs), M Boyle 1-3, S Conway 0-4 (2fs, 1s/l), C Hussey 0-3, S Nolan, B O’Mahony 0-2 each, J Diggins, C O’Keeffe, D Collins 0-1 each.
Westmeath: N Conaty; D Egerton, T Gallagher, C Shaw; A Craig, T Doyle, A Clarke; C Boyle, R Greville; D Glennon, K Doyle, J Boyle; C Doyle, N O’Brien, N Mitchell. Subs: S Clavin for C Boyle (49), J Coll for C Doyle (55), D McNicholas for K Doyle (62), S Williams for O’Brien (67), D Clinton for J Boyle (70 + 1).
Kerry: JB O’Halloran; E Leen, E Murphy, C O’Keeffe; J Diggins, F Mackessy, T O’Connor; P O’Connor, S Nolan; M Boyle, D Collins, B O’Mahony; P Boyle, S Conway, C Hussey. Subs: M Leane for P O’Connor (h-t), B Murphy for T O’Connor (43), M O’Connor for O’Mahony (54).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).