With the All Ireland final between Dublin and Tyrone taking centre stage at the weekend there is a break in the Westmeath Senior Football Championship.
Three rounds have been played to date with holders St Lomans Mullingar and Tyrrellspass setting the pace in Group 1 and Garrycastle top of the pile in a highly competitive Group 2.
The action resumes next weekend with several critical matches imminent.
Reaching the knockout stages is the brief so Athlone’s clash against The Downs is eagerly anticipated especially considering Lomans and Tyrrellspass collide on the same weekend.
The other fixture in the pool carries importance also as Coralstown-Kinnegad and Killucan are both pointless.
Athlone have been unfortunate to lose against Loman’s by 2-9 to 1-10 and Tyrellspass by 2-8 to 1-10 so their upcoming fixture with The Downs is loaded with significance.
The Downs defensive lapses in concentration were ruthlessly punished by Loman’s on the opening weekend with the standard bearers emerging 3-17 to 0-17 victors.
Since then, though, The Downs have proven too strong for Killucan and Coralstown-Kinnegad, but the fixture against Athlone will be revealing for both teams.
Whoever earns the spoils will be nicely placed entering the last set of fixtures and that is why Loman’s encounter with Tyrellspass is important also.
It has been a satisfactory start for last year’s county finalists, who are both anxious to maintain their winning form.
With Ger Leech to the fore Coralstown-Kinnegad reached the penultimate stage in 2017, but they have lost three on the spin this summer. Athlone struck four goals to outfox them, while Tyrrellspass had too much forward power, and The Downs did enough to secure a valuable victory.
Avoiding a last placed finish is now the objective, but Killucan have suffered a couple of heavy defeats to The Downs and Loman’s.
Garrycastle, with Ger Heneghan making an impact in attack, have been quietly effective in Group 2 earning maximum points.
That Garrycastle are the only club to achieve that feat confirms how keenly contested it has been, but Rosemount remain optimistic following an unbeaten run.
Rosemount have accumulated two wins and a draw, but their next assignment against Garrycastle will be worth monitoring.
Despite losing to Garrycastle Mullingar Shamrocks will also believe that they can advance by overcoming St Mary’s Rochfortbridge and Rosemount.
So vital tussles are edging closer in the next month as an interesting Westmeath Championship continues to offer plenty of thrills and spills.
Lomans, chasing a fourth county title in a row, are undoubtedly the team to beat, but other clubs are beginning to generate belief and momentum.