Manager Luke Dempsey hailed St Loman’s sterling first-half performance as they defeated Castledaly 1-15 to 0-8 to reclaim the Westmeath SFC title at Cusack Park on Sunday.
Castledaly, who have made significant strides under John Donnellan, battled until the end, but Loman’s had enough pace and power to record a hugely satisfying success. An opportunistic Ken Casey goal ensured Loman’s eventually departed at the break armed with a healthy 1-7 to 0-3 advantage. Dempsey was encouraged by Loman’s work rate throughout the opening period, as underdogs Castledaly were not allowed generate any momentum.
“I am delighted with the win,” Dempsey said. “I think we set out our stall in the first half with some great tackling.” Ken Casey’s goal early on really gave us the platform we needed to push on. We were seven points ahead at half time and Castledaly really came at us for 10 minutes in the second half, but we pushed on again. It was a great panel effort, six subs came on for us, and they all acquitted themselves well.
“Commiserations to Castledaly, they had a great year. We went in as favourites and we acted like favourites throughout the game. I thought we got a great foothold at midfield. Paul Sharry’s performance was outstanding, aided and abetted by a young u21 player in Adam Gaffney. The whole team worked so hard.” Having defeated arch rivals Mullingar Shamrocks at the semi-final stage, Dempsey was content with how Loman’s delivered in the decider.
“The semi-final was a very tense game with a local rivalry,” he said. “Mullingar Shamrocks had been the form team throughout the championship, and we had heard about their exploits in different challenge matches. I think we opened up in the second half against Mullingar Shamrocks playing some great football for 20 minutes, which we played for maybe 45 of the 60 in the final. We needed to step up.
“Our first half against Shamrocks we were a bit overawed as our rivals had come in as favourites. Against Castledaly we came in relaxed, and we were very professional.” Forcing turnovers throughout the match, Dempsey was proud of how his team performed: “We worked very hard on our tackling and it really paid off. We knew Castledaly were going to present a physical challenge, and we had to be ready with good tackling not fouling.
“I thought we turned over lots of ball. I’m delighted the coaching in our training session paid off.” The inter-county pedigree of the key Loman’s players was critical too according to Dempsey. “I was delighted for Ken Casey, an ex-Offaly player, who was out for most of the year through injury. John Heslin, Shane Dempsey, and Paul Sharry coming back from the county team, and David Whelan, I thought they were great.
“David Whelan was doubtful before the game, but through great physio work we got him back on the field, he had a great game. I’m delighted for them all, they are great lads to work with.”
Loman’s now enter the Leinster Club Championship and Dempsey wants to make an impact. “We will take it one step at a time. The Leinster club is on November 8 so we have time to celebrate to get ready for it. There is no such thing as an easy game in the Leinster Club Championship.”
On Sunday, holders Raharney face Clonkill in the Westmeath SHC final at Cusack Park, 3pm throw-in. So unlucky to be defeated by Kilcormac-Killoughey in a thrilling Leinster SHC clash last year, Raharney will be keen to return to that competition by beating a well-regarded Clonkill outfit this weekend.