Your A-Z review of the sporting year

Westmeath players John Connellan (left) and his brother Ray (right) are congratulated by their mother, Mary; sister, Eimer; dad, Paul; and brother, David after defeating Meath in the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final at Croke Park, Dublin.

Westmeath players John Connellan (left) and his brother Ray (right) are congratulated by their mother, Mary; sister, Eimer; dad, Paul; and brother, David after defeating Meath in the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final at Croke Park, Dublin.

Athlone Town

A year that started with quiet expectation on the pitch ended in disappointment as Athlone Town only won nine SSE Airtricity League First Division matches from 28. The arrival of Philip Nolan as commercial and marketing manager will assist off the field where Athlone will be keen to do plenty of good work early in 2016. The next few months will be revealing for the Midlanders.

Buccaneers

The unavailability of several key players due to injuries and Connacht commitments hampered Buccs in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B. St Mary's, Ballymena, and Dublin University have been highly impressive, but when Buccs are at full strength they can test any team in this environment.

Castledaly

One of the positive stories in the Westmeath SFC was the re-emergence of Castledaly. Twelve months ago Castledaly survived a relegation battle, but under John Donnellan's stewardship they advanced to a county decider. That was a significant achievement.

Dillon

Fourteen-year-old Sarah Dillon bagged the decisive late goal as Milltown claimed All-Ireland junior glory at Parnell Park by defeating Cahir at the start of December. It was a remarkable journey for Milltown, who delivered when it mattered.

Energy

The spirit and determination Westmeath demonstrated when beating Meath in a gripping Leinster semi-final will be fondly remembered for decades.

Fixtures

Westmeath footballers will prepare for a June 12 Leinster Championship date against either Longford or Offaly. The hurlers face a tough round robin series with Carlow, Westmeath, and Kerry in May.

Gorman

Philly Gorman thanked the Athlone Town supporters in a tweet at the end of the SSE Airtricity League First Division season. Gorman was an influential figure and a prolific goal scorer for the Midlanders.

Henshaw

Robbie Henshaw has emerged as a leading player for Ireland. Much debate surrounds the future of the excellent Henshaw, as the Buccaneers hero continues to be linked with a switch from Connacht to Leinster. A classy operator, Henshaw's career glimmers with promise.

Intermediate

The Connellan brothers inspired Athlone to a deserved Westmeath Intermediate football title. It was a pity Athlone were defeated in the Leinster final, but they will return to the senior grade in Westmeath armed with confidence.

Joe Ward

Moate boxer Joe Ward enjoyed significant success in Bulgaria when claiming a second European senior boxing title in August. The 21-year-old light heavyweight defeated Peter Mullenberg from the Netherlands in the 81kg final at Samokov.

Kieran Martin

When Westmeath required a hero in a thrilling Leinster semi-final with Meath, Kieran Martin obliged. The impact Martin made in an attacking role was staggering as Westmeath staged a dramatic recovery mission. That it was Westmeath's first ever championship triumph over Meath merely added to the drama and satisfaction.

Loman's

Returning to the summit of the Westmeath game was a serious achievement for St Loman's. Luke Dempsey's shrewd sideline work combined nicely with a lively team who were worthy winners in the County Championship.

Mullingar

Cusack Park housed some tense and tremendous matches in 2015. Let's hope for similar fireworks next year.

Niall O'Brien

The gifted Westmeath hurler delivered some splendid moments during the year.

Oulart the Ballagh

Clonkill's Leinster Senior hurling campaign ended against Wexford outfit Oulart the Ballagh, who were later crowned provincial winners.

Paul Sharry

Paul Sharry continues to provide leadership and drive for St Loman's and Westmeath. Next year will be another key campaign for Sharry, who remains one of the most underrated footballers in the country.

Quality

John Heslin produced several outstanding displays for club and county in 2015. Heslin's absence with a foot injury for the round 4A qualifier loss to Fermanagh at Kingspan Breffni Park was significant.

Ryan

Micheal Ryan enjoyed a decent first year in charge of the Westmeath hurlers. The challenge the Midlanders must embrace now is producing performances in the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A this spring.

Success

Clonkill's successful campaign in the Westmeath hurling championship was noteworthy. Raharney did well a year ago, but Clonkill responded as Niall Dowdall's goal decided a tense county final.

Tom Cribbin

The manner in which the Westmeath footballers competed throughout 2015 was a testament to the work carried out by Tom Cribbin, who put the Midlanders firmly back on the road to respectability. A Leinster final appearance was welcome following three wins in the province.

Under 21

Westmeath will be hoping to produce at this level in the Leinster u21 championship. Former Offaly manager Emmett McDonnell takes charge of the team for 2016.

Victory

Westmeath footballers did not taste a competitive victory in 2014, so the past year brought some welcome encouragement.

Wonderful

The roar of jubilation when Westmeath terminated years of hurt by defeating Meath in a championship encounter at Croke Park.

X – Draws

For those with an interest in football betting, Athlone Town's record in the SSE Airtricity League First Division included six draws. Athlone will need to be more resilient.

Youth

Westmeath hurling manager Michael Ryan continued the policy of giving youth a chace. Further youngsters will be introduced to the inter-county scene.

Z

Enjoy the New Year. The O'Byrne and Walsh Cups are imminent.

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