The quest for provincial progress commences for the Westmeath senior footballers on Saturday evening when the daunting playing prospect that is current All-Ireland champions, Dublin, provide the opposition in a Leinster championship quarter final fixture to take place in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise (throw-in 6.15pm ).
The two teams meet for the first championship occasion since 2017 when Dublin defeated Westmeath in the a provincial final four fixture, but The Lake County gained a modicum of revenge for that loss when defeating the Metropolitans in the O'Byrne Cup final in 2019.
A surreal and shortened championship campaign, the defeated county on Saturday evening will cease their competitive activity for 2020, while the winners sealing a semi-final berth and a meeting with either Longford or Laois.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week as throw in looms, Maryland clubman and Westmeath captain, Kieran Martin, noted the confidence gained from a positive Allianz National Football League Division 2 campaign and how the shoots of progress gleaned can be beneficial in O'Moore Park on Saturday evening.
"Upon our return to collective team training our main focus was the Laois fixture knowing that if we achieved victory our divisional status was all but secured.
"That we did, and despite not reaching the heights in our final league fixture against Kildare, our initial goal of remaining in Division 2 come the conclusion of our league campaign was achieved," Kieran commented.
Under the guidance of Jack Cooney, the playing squad have been training thrice weekly with thoughts now permanently fixed on the quarter final championship clash.
"While training has had a surreal feel attached with players arriving individually and prepared for each session, the core team spirit remains within our group. We are determined to give of our best against the reigning All-Ireland champions. Not one person realistically affords Westmeath any opportunity to win this game but we are looking forward to the experience of playing provincial championship under the floodlights on Saturday evening," Kieran remarked.
Noting that winter weather conditions will have an impact on playing proceedings, Kieran is hoping that such an aspect may give rise to a close contest as Westmeath aim to stem Dublin's thoughts of six consecutive All-Ireland senior football titles.
"Playing championship football in early winter will present numerous challenges as playing tactics of a different nature will be to the fore and the team who adapts to the prevailing weather elements during the game will emerge victorious.
"As a playing squad and management, we are relishing the opportunity to provide a stern test for Dublin and as Saturday evening's contest fast approaches, our focussed championship hopes remain very much positive," Kieran concluded.