A championship exit to reigning All-Ireland senior football holders, Dublin, is not one with which to be wholly despondent, as Westmeath senior captain, Kieran Martin, reflected upon the provincial quarter final encounter in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, on Saturday night, the Maryland clubman asserting the positives from a competitive season realising the retention of the team’s Allianz National Football League Division 2 status.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser, Kieran noted the final whistle scoreboard showing which indicated a narrowing of the result gap with the Metropolitans. In 2017, Dublin defeated Westmeath by 31 points in a provincial semi-final. On Saturday night, upon the game’s conclusion, 11 points separated both teams.
“The scoreboard ultimately reflects the game and to reduce the margin of defeat from the 2017 Leinster football semi-final is an encouraging sign despite the loss.
“The game plan was to stay within scoring range of Dublin and aim to win two of the four quarters over which the game is now played. However, with Dublin being a team of numerous playing qualities they have the ability to win a game within a short time spell and their ability to break the line and take points proved the ultimate difference in the opening half. When their key playing personnel are in possession and within scoring range they rarely, if ever, miss,” Kieran remarked.
Westmeath did find the range with some quality points from distance, the Lake County’s final score in the first half culminating a well worked team movement and in the second moiety Dublin held scoreboard sway by a mere two points.
“Physically, Dublin are on a different playing level and a combination of both their tactical acumen and playing talent ensures any opposition have to be at their peak to beat them.
“Any errors which we made during the game were capitalised upon and when you have a period of possession in such encounters you have to take full advantage as Dublin will definitely avail of their in game supremacy with their running game and scoring accuracy,” Kieran commented.
Post game, there was time for swift reflection with management as the initial goal of division status retention was cause for much positivity. The playing squad will each work on individual fitness plans before returning to training as thoughts turn towards their 2021 competitive campaign.
“Maintaining our division status is notable progression for Westmeath. We need to be playing at this level or higher if we are to continue our development and make an impact when our championship campaign throws in next year,” Kieran concluded.