Amid sweltering playing conditions, Westmeath exited the Leinster senior football championship on Sunday afternoon last, but will rue a missed opportunity to advance to the provincial showpiece fixture, failing to capitalise on numerous second half chances which, if scored, would most certainly have secured a final bow with Dublin.
Two significant moments proved vital to the outcome of this semi-final fixture, lapsed concentration within the Westmeath defensive unit resulting in Kildare netting crucial goals and bolstering the Lilywhite cause during the first quarter of the second half.
Despite these green flag setbacks, Westmeath valiantly rallied, reeling in the eventual victors with impressive points before John Heslin was denied a certain goal by the outstretched palm of Kildare custodian, Mark Donnellan - a three pointer at this stage of the contest would have placed Westmeath in the scoreboard ascendancy and boosted confidence with a quarter of the fixture remaining to be played.
A maroon wave flowed towards the Canal End goal but shot selection and accuracy was to prove wholly detrimental, ten wides during the second half giving much cause for regret upon the shrill of the final whistle.
Castledaly clubman, Lorcan Dolan, impressed on his senior championship Croke Park debut, pointing on five occasions and will reflect proudly on his two championship displays.
Speaking following the contest’s conclusion, team manager, Jack Cooney afforded great credit to his players who rallied from a six point deficit to a margin of just one point as the game approached the final minute.
Noting his pride in the Lake County playing efforts, Jack stated that there were many positives to be gleaned from the game with character shown in abundance as the team positively responded to the concession of two second half goals.
Alas, a provincial final fixture is not to be but Westmeath can reflect on league and championship campaigns with positive thoughts for the future.
While defeats outnumbered successes on the field, there were prolonged periods in all six games where the Lake County held playing sway and but for opportunities not taken when presented, Allianz National League Division 2 status would be maintained and the players and management would now be looking towards an August 1 provincial final date with reigning All-Ireland champions, Dublin.
Minute margins indeed!