Westmeath’s eight point defeat away to Louth last weekend in the opening round of the National League has turned up the heat as they prepare to welcome Cavan to Cusack Park on Sunday. Hopes were high ahead of the trip to Louth that, even allowing for the difficult nature of the opening encounter, the losing run could be arrested. If we are to retain any hope of promotion a win on Sunday is a must.
Louth capitalised on Westmeath’s slow start and took a commanding lead by the end of the first quarter. Westmeath had the aid of the elements in the opening half but the concession of two majors in a two minute spell at the end of the opening quarter left them with a mountain to climb.
To their credit they did rally before half time and reduced the deficit to just a single point, 2-4 to 0-9. That was as good as it got for the Lakelanders however and Louth dominated much of the second half, outscoring the visitors by nine points to two in the second period. The final scoreline of Louth 2-13 to Westmeath’s 0-11 will do little for confidence as they prepare to take on the Breffni men on Sunday.
Louth’s Shane Lennon contributed 1-7 (1-5 from play ) and proved more than a handful for rookie Westmeath fullback Robert English. English had shown up well in the O’Byrne Cup but last weekend’s game proved a steep learning curve. The young Tang man came up against a seasoned campaigner very much on his game and is sure to enjoy better days ahead in the maroon jersey.
John Heslin made his league debut in midfield and while at times we saw glimpses of the class which the young St Loman’s man possesses, we will be needing a higher tempo performance from the midfield sector against Cavan. Denis Corroon did well when introduced for the injured Brendan Murtagh and looks likely to feature in Cusack Park.
Up front we were toothless and the final tally of 0-11 won’t win too many games. Denis Glennon kicked three frees but surely Pat Flanagan would be well advised to play Glennon closer to goal where he can cause maximum damage. Any opposing team must be delighted when they see Glennon playing deep. It’s certainly true on the club scene. Yes, he gets on plenty of ball, but is no threat out around midfield. Put him close to goal and his explosive speed will be a serious worry for even the best of defences.
The lacklustre performances of the likes of Paul Greville, Ger Egan, and David Glennon must be a cause of concern ahead of the visit of Val Andrew’s men. We need a more clinical performance up front on Sunday if we are to end our 15 match losing run.
Denis Glennon was forced off with a hip injury against Louth but Pat Flanagan will be hoping to have his newly appointed captain on board this Sunday. Doran Harte, who did well when introduced against Louth will surely be included in the starting 15 this weekend.
Cavan lost their opening round game away to Offaly so they too will be desperate to get something out of Sunday’s visit to Cusack Park. A question mark hangs over the availability of Denis Glennon and Kieran Gavin. A host of players were involved in Sigerson Cup action yesterday (Thursday ) and hopefully they came through unscathed.
I was confident we could cause a surprise against Louth. That result, and indeed performance, has left me a lot more unsure, as we prepare for a game I would previously have seen as being in the bag. Home advantage is huge in the league and provided we have a full hand to pick from I still think we can finally bring down the curtain on our dismal league run stretching back over two years. It will be tight though.