Breaking with the traditional summer season start, the opening round robin fixture of the Westmeath senior football championship is due to throw-in in mid-April with current holders, Garrycastle seeking to retain the Flanagan Cup following a stirring and character laden county final victory over St. Loman’s of Mullingar.
Such was the confidence attained from the Athlone club’s county final success, provincial progress followed with notable wins over Emmet Óg Killoe (Longford ) and Ratoath (Meath ), before the eight time senior football champions succumbed to the challenge of Ballyboden St. Endas (Dublin ) at the semi-final stage of the Leinster competition.
One of two South Westmeath clubs positioned in Group One of this year’s senior championship, Garrycastle will play Rosemount (promoted from Group Two following their championship exploits in 2019 ) in their opening senior football championship fixture on the weekend of April 18.
An intriguing on field encounter is in prospect with both teams eager to commence their championship campaigns in positive fashion, but the pitchside personnel affords further interest to this game as newly appointed Rosemount manager, Frankie Dolan, is a first cousin of both Gary and Des Dolan, both of whom will be in management mode for Garrycastle during playing proceedings. John Keane, a pivotal member of the Garrycastle team, is a former Rosemount player and he will face his home club for the inaugural championship occasion.
Meanwhile, in Group Two, Athlone, under the guidance of former Mayo All-Star, Liam McHale, commence their championship odyssey with a South Westmeath contest against Castledaly.
Athlone will be seeking to banish the memory of Championship 2019 when they failed to win a round robin fixture resulting in their demotion to Group Two. The appointment of McHale has garnered much interest within the Páirc Chiaráin surrounds and it is hoped that such a talismanic figure in the GAA coaching realm can return the county’s most successful senior championship club to the higher echelons of Westmeath football.
With Caulry completing the South Westmeath club contingent striving to advance to the knockout stages of this year’s senior football championship, competitive outings will be a regular occurrence as the round robin fixtures unfold.
As players aim to peak for opening championship fare in mid-April, they will not taste Flanagan Cup fare once again until July when the second set of round robing fixtures throw-in.
Meanwhile, the All County Football League competitions commence this weekend with Division One champions, Garrycastle, started the defence of their title with an away fixture in Tang on Saturday at 2pm. Athlone, relegated from Division One last campaign, journey to Rochfortbridge on Saturday, where they will play St. Marys, throw-in, 2pm.