An interesting Leinster Senior Hurling Championship round robin commences this weekend when Westmeath travel to O’Moore Park to do battle with Laois.
Meath host Kerry in the other match with two teams advancing to the knockout stages in the province.
Last year, Westmeath enjoyed a hugely encouraging campaign, winning Division 2A of the Allianz Hurling League before delivering some fine displays in the summer. The spring of 2017 did not go so well for Westmeath, but several injuries disturbed the Midlanders in the early rounds of the league.
Michael Ryan’s charges did finish the competition strongly, with a decent away victory over Antrim illustrating the improvement. With Antrim, Carlow, and an improving Kildare in the mix, Division 2A proved to be a highly competitive environment.
Westmeath, though, know that Laois enjoyed some good moments in Division 1B, especially a thrilling relegation playoff success over Kerry. That 1-30 to 4-20 win over Kerry went the distance, with Ross King scoring 13 points for Laois, while Willie Dunphy, Cha Dwyer, and Stephen Maher were others to impress for Eamonn Kelly’s side. Laois will now want to claim a top two spot in the round robin group, but Westmeath will also feel that they can progress.
Ryan has integrated several young players into the Westmeath panel and believes that the county can continue to make strides. The next month will be revealing for Westmeath, who will be striving to earn a top two spot in the group.