The familiar vast green swathe of TEG Cusack Park once again awaits Westmeath senior football champions, Garrycastle, on Sunday afternoon, as the Athlone team return to competitive action and a Leinster club championship encounter against Ratoath of Meath (throw-in, 1.30pm ).
Inaugural Meath senior football champions, Ratoath, are certain to provide a different level of opposition than that posed by provincial first round opponents, Killoe Emmet Óg, Garrycastle sealing a comprehensive nine point victory over their Longford counterparts.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser in advance of the quarter final contest, Garrycastle team captain, Doron Harte, is expecting a close encounter from the neighbouring county representatives.
“It is actually my first time to play against reigning Meath senior football champions and we have a big challenge to overcome if we are to be successful on Sunday afternoon. Ratoath have a number of county players in their team, notably Conor McGill (recently nominated for a football all-star ), Bryan McMahon and Eamon Wallace and their influence on proceedings will have to be curtailed if a win is to be accomplished,” Doron remarked.
Reflecting on the opening round victory over Killoe, Doron commended the team ethic which ensured success, paying particular reference to long serving colleague, Dessie Dolan, in the process.
“Being subbed at half time in the county final was not the ideal scenario for Dessie, who has been such an inspirational figure on our team through the years.
“Such was our display in that particular first half any player could have been substituted, but as is with a footballer of Dessie’s quality, he worked immensely hard in training which enabled him to positively effect our win against Killoe,” Doran remarked.
The short journey to Mullingar is of benefit to Garrycastle with a surface perennially conducive to fast flowing football, a notable trait of the team’s championship performances to date.
“When the journey to the match venue is short, you feel more relaxed and it helps you adopt a positive mindset before the game commences. We are looking forward to Sunday and hopefully, our performance will ensure a place in the semi-finals,” Doron commented.
Regarding team news, Tom O’Halloran, received good news pertaining to a recent knee injury and has rejoined training, news which has come as a “major boost” for Garrycastle, Doran added.
Should Garrycastle taste success on Sunday, they will face either Dublin champions, Ballyboden St. Endas or Louth champions, Newtown Blues, in a TEG Cusack Park final four fixture.