Westmeath confident for final after impressive run

Kieran Martin holds off Cian Donohue. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Kieran Martin holds off Cian Donohue. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Westmeath face an interesting Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup final against Meath at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise on Sunday.

It has been an encouraging January for the midlanders, who have stitched a three match winning sequence together under new manager, Colin Kelly.

Two victories over Laois and a hard earned triumph against neighbours Offaly means Westmeath enter this weekend’s decider heartened.

“Yeah, it is a good place, it is nice to win a semi-final of a competition to get to the final next week,” Kelly remarked in an interview with Midlands Sport 103.

Kelly is delighted that Westmeath’s players are being afforded plenty of opportunities ahead of the Allianz Football League.

“Everything is good,” he said. “It is brilliant for the squad, it is something to work towards every Sunday. Ideally you’d like to be getting game time into everyone, but it is getting to the stage of the season where we have to start looking ahead, pushing on to win these games. It is great for the squad to have these games and we have another one next Sunday.”

With the St Loman’s contingent rested, Kelly is thrilled with the increasing depth of the Westmeath panel.

“Someone showed me a stat which said we had eight in the 26 that played Offaly in the Championship which is a huge turnaround,” Kelly remarked following the Offaly success. “That means there is 18 new guys in the squad, maybe not all debutants, but it is still a big turnaround. To win with that number of new guys coming in is very good, it bodes well for the future of Westmeath football.”

Denis Corroon struck a vital goal against Offaly and Kelly is pleased with aspects of Westmeath’s play.

“We can take good performance, bad performance, last week at times it was fantastic football, here it was a bit of a grind, but we showed elements of what we can do,” he said.

“I thought Dinny’s goal was absolutely fantastic, the move was great. We probably missed a couple of scoring chances which left us tense and tighter than we should have been at the end.

“I don’t think at any stage that we looked as if we were going to lose the game really. We made a couple of bad, bad errors that allowed them score which you’d hope we can eradicate going forward.

“At the same time you don’t want to put lads back in terms of being slow in build up, we want to get them to play on the edge. One of the things we have worked on in the last couple of weeks is game management, that is an area we need to improve.”

Kelly is adamant about the potential that exists within Westmeath.

“They are a really good bunch of players, they have a high skillset, they are talented, they work really hard at what they are doing, they enjoy it and they want to play with Westmeath,” he commented. “It is an easy camp at the minute to work in. We are going to have bumps along the way, we are going to have poor days aswell, but at the minute it is going well, we are winning. It could be a lot better, but we are winning games, and that is what we want to do.”

Kelly is thrilled to be getting another competitive clash ahead of the Allianz Football League Division Three opener with Derry at Celtic Park on January 28.

“Irrespective of who comes back in, the squad is pushing on very hard and we are in a good place at the minute,” he said. “Next week is going to be a different experience. It is a final, there is going to be exposure, but as I said to the boys, what would you rather be doing, training or playing in an O’Byrne Cup Final? It is a no brainer.”

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