Westmeath host Kildare in a crucial Allianz Hurling League Division 2A encounter at TEG Cusack Park on Sunday, throw-in at 12.30pm.
Michael Ryan’s charges earned a fine triumph against Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park in their league opener. Despite the first half dismissal of Aaron Craig, Westmeath were still able to record a vital victory.
“It was an absolute battle, that is what it always is down here,” Ryan said in an interview with Midlands Sport 103. “We had a man sent off in the first half and that is something we have to eradicate, it is something that has been happening far too often. We have to sort that out, but I thought the lads were magnificent in the second half.
“We played all the hurling, we worked the ball into position, Robbie (Greville ) stepped up to the plate, Niall Mitchell, Killian Doyle, we got some fantastic scores. I think we deserved to win it, but what a battle.”
Ryan was pleased by how his team performed, especially in the second period.
“We had to make a few changes, we brought on two subs and brought in some fresh legs,” he remarked. “Discipline is a huge factor nowadays. We are very happy to come out with two points and these games are worth more than two points because it puts you ahead in the head to head as well. Every game in this Division is going to be a battle. I thought that in the second half the lads’ work rate was outstanding.”
A solid Westmeath defence featured powerful displays from Tommy Doyle and Shane Power, according to Ryan.
“Tommy Doyle really thundered into the game, he led by example,” Ryan commented. “Shane Power was Shane Power, he always does that. Our backs played well, we closed them down, we didn’t give them any goal opportunities. I thought in the second half Robbie Greville scored two or three great points and Killian as well, and Niall Mitchell got classic scores, they break the heart of a team.
“It is more than just a point. It has a demoralising effect on the other team. Next Sunday is a different day. Immediately, our focus turns to Kildare, they beat us last year in Kildare and deservedly so. That game in Cusack Park is now an even bigger game.”