Knockout phase awaits as Westmeath SFC reaches crucial stage

A vital weekend in the Westmeath Senior Football championship looms with six interesting encounters scheduled. On Saturday evening Tyrrellspass and The Downs, two of the form teams, collide at TEG Cusack Park. Boosted by a fine win over holders St Lomans, Tyrrellspass will be eager to record a fifth straight victory, but The Downs are motoring well.

Since losing to Lomans in the opening round of fixtures, The Downs have responded impressively stitching a three match winning sequence together. That is why a lively match is anticipated with the possibility of earning a place in the semi-finals a considerable prize.

Lomans, who will be without a string of key players, will still be expected to overcome Coralstown-Kinnegad at Rochfortbridge. Athlone’s tussle with Killucan is a critical tussle for two clubs, who are disappointed to have only secured one triumph each so far in the competition.Ray Connellan’s return for Athlone is a boost, while Killucan took some encouragement from the 1-7 to 0-7 success over Coralstown-Kinnegad.

There is plenty at stake in Group 2 also with Garrycastle, Mullingar Shamrocks, and Rosemount all intent on claiming quarter-final spots. Garrycastle are fancied to overcome Maryland, while Rosemount and Shamrocks will be involved in a keenly contested affair at TEG Cusack Park on Sunday. The winner will claim a much coveted top two spot so this is a game worth monitoring.

Avoiding a relegation battle is Castledaly and St Mary’s Rochfortbridge’s mission so their meeting in Ballinacargy is loaded with importance too.

Reflecting on the weekend’s fixtures, Ger Egan’s splendid finish ensured Tyrrellspass defeated holders St Lomans, Mullingar 0-16 to 1-10 in Group 1. John Heslin’s late sending off completed a disappointing second half for the holders, who had led 1-7 to 0-4 at the interval.

TJ Cox’s opportunistic goal put Lomans into a commanding position at the break, but Tyrrellspass responded impressively. Ger Egan’s free taking was a key feature for Tyrrellspass, who are now top of the pool as four in a row chasing Lomans, currently without Paul Sharry and Shane Dempsey, will be eager to bounce back in the coming weeks.

Ray Connellan returned to competitive action for Athlone, but The Downs proved too strong, 3-12 to 0-12 in what was a critical encounter for both clubs. Adam Loughlin-Stones, Philip Doherty, and Luke Loughlin all netted goals for The Downs, but Connellan’s availability wasn’t enough for Athlone, who suffered a setback. Connellan clipped a couple of points, while substitutes Daniel Reid and Diarmuid Martin also added scores, but The Downs, who led by 2-7 to 0-6 at half-time, prevailed.

Killian Doyle’s first half goal guided Killucan to a 1-7 to 0-7 success over Coralstown-Kinnegad. With Sean Quinn outstanding in defence, Killucan maintained their interest in the championship ahead of next weekend’s important tussle against Athlone.

The race for the top two spots in Group 2 continues to provide plenty of thrills and spills. Rosemount divided the spoils with Garrycastle following a keenly contested 1-10 each draw on Sunday. Theo Watts netted a second period goal for Rosemount, but Conor Cosgrove replied with a Garrycastle major. In the closing stages Lorcan Daly edged Rosemount ahead as Garrycastle were being under severe pressure. A foul on James Dolan enabled Alex Gardiner to slot the leveller and in the dying embers the Garrycastle forward dragged a shot narrowly wide following a foul on substitute Dessie Dolan. Ger Heneghan had contributed four points for Garrycastle, who were boosted by the return of James Dolan.

Mullingar Shamrocks proved too strong for St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge on a 1-16 to 0-10 scoreline. Patrick Fagan and Denis Corroon, who landed nine points between them and goalscorer Jordan Warde all contributed handsomely. Tye Adamson was another to clip four good points for Shamrocks, who now face Rosemount in a vital game next weekend.

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