IF there's one word in the GAA that's overused it's historic. If this Kilkenny hurling team win a third straight All Ireland, it's historic. If Kerry predictably hammer Wicklow in some qualifier, it's still predictably historic.

Yesterday, though, was truly historic. Consider this. Before this championship, there were only three counties that hadn't won a provincial title.

One of that three was Wicklow. Another was Fermanagh, who yesterday in Clones, amazingly qualified for the All Ireland quarter-final for the second straight year. On any other day, Charlie Mulgrew would be stealing all the headlines for his miracle work. Trust Páidí to come along and grab them all again.

That's right. What used to be three counties is now only two. Yesterday in Croke Park Westmeath, for the first time ever, were crowned Leinster football champions. Historic.

Ó Sé deserves every bit of credit he gets. When he agreed to take up this gig last October, it was the most ridiculous thing we had heard since, well, news filtered out 12 months earlier that Mick O'Dwyer was going to go up to train those made young fellas in Laois. And the thing was, a lot of us thought the Westmeath county board were the ones whose judgement had to be questioned.

Even with those two All Irelands and six Munsters he won with Kerry, even with those two county titles he won with west Kerry back in the mid-eighties, Ó Sé was perceived at best to be a merely competent manager.

He's proven once for and all he's much more than that now. After Kerry lost the 2002 All Ireland final, Ó Sé attributed Armagh's victory to the Crossmaglen factor "and helicopters and all that"; well, this Leinster title was won thanks to some airplanes from Farranfore to Dublin and all that.

Before Ó Sé's arrival, Westmeath were seen as a team with some nice forwards but a shaky defence. Only once in five games this summer have they conceded more than 012. A lot of that has to go down to one man's ability to coach.

But everywhere yesterday his players were immense.

Captain David O'Shaughnessy's ball winning and distribution was hugely impressive. Then there was the attack. A few years ago we used to think the only forwards in Westmeath were Ger Heavin and Dessie Dolan.

Then when Heavin retired there was only Dolan. Last week we discovered they also have a young chap called Dennis Glennon. After his four points yesterday, you can now add Alan Mangan to the list.

Laois, it has to be said, were dealt a severe blow the day before the game. Chris Conway, the man whose lastminute point last Sunday was the reason we were all back here, was the one man who wasn't able to make it back himself, after being rushed to hospital with appendicitis. O'Dwyer chose to go with Donal Brennan, the county minor. It worked well enough.

Much of Laois's best football went through him and he kicked one monstrous point off his left foot midway through the first half, but towards the end of the first half Donal O'Donoghue finally came to grips with him. In a low-scoring game, Conway's point-scoring ability was missed.

After last Sunday's drawn game, a man in the crowd roared to Mick O'Dwyer, "Come on Tyrone!" "Bring them on, " chuckled O'Dwyer.

It's doubtful if he feels that way now.

It was a strange kind of a game. Westmeath didn't score in the first 21 minutes and didn't score in the last 26 either. In between though they went ballistic.

You would have been forgiven, if you thought that halftime, as Graham Taylor once infamously put it, had come at a bad time for Westmeath, but they simply refused to allow it break their momentum. Upon the resumption they kept coming at Laois in waves to either kick or fist four consecutive points. Victory seemed imminent.

Westmeath being Westmeath, they had to make things hard for themselves.

They invited Laois onto them with their tendency to kick a world of ball into Byron's arms.

It all meant that with ten minutes to go, they were only 0-12 to 0-9 up. And even when they held out for those ten minutes, the fourth official's board declared Laois had six more. But when Kevin Fitzpatrick blazed wide, it was obvious to one and all. It was Westmeath's time.