An A-Z of sport in 2017

Athlone Town

It was a demanding campaign, on and off the field, for Athlone Town. The midlanders only won four First Division games in 2017.

Buccaneers

Having secured promotion to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, Buccaneers have continued to deliver plucky performances. Unfortunately the results haven’t followed, but retaining top flight status is the aim.

Colin Kelly

The new Westmeath manager enjoyed good success with his native Louth, especially in the Allianz Football League with two successive promotions. Westmeath will be keen to make an impact in the spring.

Dominant

St Loman’s earned a third Westmeath crown on the spin in convincing fashion. With four county titles accumulated in five years the Mullingar based outfit continue to dominate the game.

Entertainment

That is what Westmeath GAA supporters will be hoping for next year. The Allianz Leagues promise to be revealing ahead of an important summer. Westmeath have been competitive in the Leinster Championship in recent years and maintaining that level of performance is critical.

Fixtures

There will be no shortage of action in all the different codes once more in 2018. Athlone Town, Buccaneers, and the Westmeath hurlers and footballers are primed for an interesting spell.

Gaughan

It was a busy 2017 for Alan Gaughan, who served the Buccaneers, Athlone, and Westmeath causes with distinction. Gaughan enjoyed glory with both Buccaneers and Westmeath.

Hurling success

Castletown Geoghegan returned to the summit in Westmeath. Raharney and Clonkill had been in charge for the past three years, but Castletown Geoghean earned a first title since 2013.

Improving

The Downs and Tyrellspass both showed signs of improvement at different stages of the Westmeath Championship. St Loman’s, though, very much remain the team to beat. Reaching that standard is what every other club wants to do.

John Heslin

Such a key figure for club and county John Heslin made a great impression for St Loman’s and Westmeath throughout the year. Gorgeous goals, precise points, and always relevant, Heslin is a footballer of considerable talent.

Knock-out

A Leinster Final that promised so much for St Loman’s was ended by a knock-out blow late on from Moorefield in Portlaoise. Leading by six points in the closing stages, Loman’s failed to close the deal as Moorefield launched a stunning comeback. Kevin Murnaghan. supplied the decisive jab in injury time.

Losses

Athlone Town were beaten in 19 out of 28 First Division games in 2017. A significant improvement is required.

Michael Ryan

The Waterford native has been a positive influence on hurling in Westmeath. Ensuring the midlanders enjoy a strong Allianz Hurling League is Ryan’s current brief.

Nifty

Westmeath’s All-Ireland Premier Junior Camogie success in September was achieved by a skilful outfit, well coached by Johnny Greville. Sheila McGrath and Dinah Loughlin were immense, while Denise McGrath grabbed a critical goal.

Onwards and upwards

It is an attitude Athlone must embrace after finishing bottom of the First Division. Aaron Callaghan brings a solid coaching pedigree and his partnership with Roddy Collins might relaunch the midlands club, who host trials for the new campaign shortly.

Promotion

Following three successive relegations, promotion was finally achieved by Westmeath in 2017. Getting back into Division Three of the Allianz Football League was a boost.

Question

Can Aaron Callaghan and Roddy Collins revitalise Athlone Town in 2018? An important stint looms for Athlone, who open their SSE Airtricity League campaign away to Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park in February.

Robbie Henshaw

Whether in the royal blue of Leinster, emerald green of Ireland, or blood red of the British & Irish Lions, Robbie Henshaw will contributed wholehearted and dynamic displays. It has been an impressive year yet again for the Athlone man.

Summit

The Westmeath Camogie team reached the All Ireland Premier Junior summit following a 1-10 to 1-6 final triumph over Dublin at Croke Park in September. It was another good triumph for manager Johnny Greville.

Twelve points

In the Westmeath SHC Final, Castletown Geoghegan were inspired by the splendid Aonghus Clarke, who rifled over 12 points during the win over Raharney. It was a brilliant contribution from Clarke.

Underage

A new inter-county structure is being implemented in 2018. How Westmeath cope will be worth monitoring.

Vibrant

Athlone Town’s U15 side won the inaugural SSE Airtricity League at that level. Dylan Gavin’s goal defeated St Patrick’s Athletic at Lissywollen.

Ward

It was another satisfying and productive year for the classy boxer Joe Ward, who is not short on offers to turn professional. For now, though, Ward continues to earn medals on the European and World stage.

X-Factor

That is what Loman’s are still showing in Westmeath. Paddy Dowdall providing guile and experience; Paul Sharry supplying pace and power; John Heslin kicking scores and offering leadership; Shane Dempsey and Ken Casey a potent threat inside.

Youth

How many emerging players will Colin Kelly use during the Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup? Experimentation will take place ahead of the Allianz Football League.

Zoom

Westmeath travelled quickly in the Allianz Football League in 2017. Under Tom Cribbin’s stewardship, Westmeath won six of their seven group matches following a thrilling opening draw against Carlow. The 2-24 to 2-11 Croke Park final triumph over Wexford was also a positive experience.

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