Tricky ties up next for Westmeath sides

Leinster GAA secretary, Michael Reynolds is pictured inspecting a waterlogged O'Moore Park prior to the postponement of the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup final between Westmeath and Meath last weekend. Photo: Piaras O Midheach/Sportsfile

Leinster GAA secretary, Michael Reynolds is pictured inspecting a waterlogged O'Moore Park prior to the postponement of the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup final between Westmeath and Meath last weekend. Photo: Piaras O Midheach/Sportsfile

A busy Allianz Football League Division Three campaign commences for Westmeath on Sunday when Colin Kelly's team face Derry at Celtic Park.

It is a difficult start for Westmeath away to Derry, who were relegated from Division Two last year. Westmeath emerged as winners in Division Four and will be hoping to make further progress under new boss Kelly.

Westmeath have enjoyed an encouraging start to January stitching a three match winning sequence together, beating Laois twice and Offaly in the Bord Na Mona O'Byrne Cup semi-final. A waterlogged O'Moore Park in Portlaoise forced a postponement of the decider in that competition, with the re-fixture set to take place on February 18 at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar.

Before then, though, Westmeath will be anxious to earn Allianz League points, but a difficult task awaits up north. Derry, now under the stewardship of Damian McErlain, who guided the county to the All-Ireland minor final in 2017, are expected to be serious promotion contenders. Westmeath remain quietly confident about making an impact and have been boosted by the splendid recent form shown by Callum McCormack and Luke Loughlin in attack.

Several St Loman's players have returned to the panel, with the outstanding John Heslin announced as Westmeath's captain for the upcoming league and championship.

Meanwhile, Michael Ryan's Westmeath hurlers also face a tricky opening fixture in Division 2A of the Allianz Hurling League away to Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park. Carlow claimed the Christy Ring Cup in dramatic fashion in 2017, and are hopeful about building on that success. Westmeath, though, have proven to be a resourceful team with Ryan at the helm, and this weekend's encounter should be interesting.

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