A first Leinster senior football victory since 2017, Westmeath did so in scoring style on the vast green swathe of O’Connor Park, Tullamore, comprehensively defeating opponents Laois by a 16 point margin to advance to a provincial semi-final berth and a fixture with Kildare.
As sporadic summer showers dotted the playing landscape, Westmeath exerted their superiority in the second half of this contest and achieved their first competitive victory of the campaign over a Laois team who despite, having a one point half time lead, failed to register a score in the closing thirty minutes of play.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser following the comprehensive victory, team manager, Jack Cooney, lauded the cohesive spirit shown by the Westmeath players as they reversed a half time deficit to ease into the semi-final of the provincial championship.
“While the scoreline reveals a commanding victory, it was reflective of the manner in which we played during the second half. We finished the game positively and that was the most pleasing aspect of our performance. The result may have been evident with time remaining but we still exerted pressure on the Laois players and sought to maintain our superiority until the final whistle,” Cooney stated.
Despite Laois holding sway in the second quarter of the game, Cooney noted that his charges were very much ‘in the game’ for the duration and controlled proceedings for the vast majority of the championship contest.
“When the flow of the game is not in your favour it is vital that you maintain a clear head and I thought that our players did so. We responded very well at the start of the second half and when we scored our first goal confidence appeared to soar amongst the players,” Cooney added.
The boost of a second goal, a well worked team score, finished to the net by David Lynch, further boosted the county cause.
“Our second goal put the team in a commanding position, edging us closer to victory and from this moment on we maintained control of the game which will serve us positively as we approach the semi-final with Kildare.
“We had numerous goalscoring opportunities of which we did not avail during our league campaign so it was timely to raise three green flags on Sunday,” Cooney asserted.
A mixture of youth and players with previous senior football championship experience, Westmeath now have the opportunity to build open this championship success.
“It is all about building upon the championship experience, particularly for the younger members of our squad. Kildare present a whole new challenge, being a Division One team, but we can now approach the game with a positive mindset in the hope that a strong team performance will secure a place in the provincial final,” Cooney concluded.