TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar hosts an interesting Leinster SFC quarter-final replay between Westmeath and Offaly on Saturday afternoon (June 17, 2pm throw-in ).
Last Sunday’s encounter at Bord na Mona O’Connor Park eventually ended in a draw, 0-10 each, following a tight contest.
Offaly had the impressive Michael Brazil and Ruairi Allen sent off during a dramatic second period, but Westmeath were unable to secure victory against the battling hosts.
Pat Flanagan’s Offaly had performed well when playing into the wind in the opening period as the teams departed deadlocked at the break.
It was similarly hard fought when the action recommenced, but Offaly survived despite the dismissals of Brazil and Allen.
Westmeath boss Tom Cribbin was satisfied that his team will get another opportunity this weekend.
“We are glad to be getting out of here with a drawn match and to still be in the Leinster Championship,” Cribbin said in a post-match interview with Midlands 103 Sport. “It was a tough game, very tough on the players. The football mightn’t have been pretty, but it was a high energy game in my opinion. There were a lot of good hits in it.
“Very passionate from both teams, there was a lot at stake, I thought that showed out on the pitch. I know the scores weren’t great, but it was a very blustery breeze and the grass was slippy.”
Cribbin praised Offaly, who delivered a fine opening period display with Nigel Dunne effective in attack and Cian Donoghue and Brazil bursting through from deep.
“Offaly were very good against the breeze, they carried the ball well and came at us strong,” Cribbin stated. “From the middle of the park and their own half-back line, they were very patient with it, we just couldn’t get to them. It was as simple as that, our lads were probably afraid of being drawn out because it was a very strong breeze.
“Local derby games take on a life of their own, it means an awful lot to both teams. The conditions weren’t easy, it could have been that, but Offaly were the same. They hadn’t played for nine weeks either, it was the same for both teams. I’m sure it will bring on both teams a lot, but I don’t think it will be a whole lot different next week.
“There is a lot at stake for both teams. There will be a lot of passion shown and we just have to try to see if we can create a few more scoring chances.”
Cribbin is adamant that Westmeath and Offaly will improve considerably following their provincial opener.
“We have no complaints, both teams will be happy,” was Cribbin’s verdict. “I think both teams will be happy enough to get another day out.
“Sharpness-wise that game will bring on both teams. Hopefully home advantage tells a little bit, but Offaly will have no fear coming to Mullingar either, the same as we had no fear. Two very good grounds, with good, fast pitches which suit both teams. There is very little between the teams.”