The recent addition of former Westmeath great, Dessie Dolan, to the county’s senior football management team, is a notable move by supremo, Jack Cooney, as his charges prepare for the opening round of the Allianz National Football League Division Three campaign which commences with a home fixture against Wicklow on Sunday, January 30.
A swift return to the Division Two surrounds will be the aim for Westmeath who were unlucky to taste relegation from the second tier of league football in 2021.
The Lake County’s competitive campaign starts on Sunday afternoon in Newbridge, Kildare providing the opposition in the opening group fixture of the O’Byrne Cup. An experimental team will strive to place positive thoughts in the management minds as players strive to secure a place in the panel for the forthcoming season.
The game with Kildare is followed by a home fixture against Carlow on January 15 at a venue to be decided.
This year’s O’Byrne Cup comprises of three groups with the winners of each advancing to the knockout stage. The winners of a four team group play the winners of the three team group (in which Westmeath feature ) in the semi-final, and the other four-team group winners advancing directly to the final.
Westmeath will be hoping of O’Byrne Cup progression to sustain competitive action prior to the start of their national league campaign. With seven games to contest, the Lake County will host Wicklow, Longford and Fermanagh in TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar with away fixtures to be played in Laois, Louth, Limerick and Antrim, the final outing against the Saffrons to be played on March 27.
The top two teams in the division will then face off to earn the reward of promotion on the weekend of April 2 - Westmeath will be hopeful of eight competitive clashes prior to the start of their Leinster senior football championship campaign, a date with Longford on April 30 or May 1.
Westmeath Hurlers League Campaign
Meanwhile, the Westmeath senior hurlers commence their Division 2A campaign with an opening day fixture at home to Kerry on February 6. Two away contests follow with trips to Carlow and Meath before a return to TEG Cusack Park on March 6 and a clash against Down. The Lake County conclude the round robin phase of their league campaign on March 20 against Kildare in Newbridge.
Should Westmeath claim top spot in the division they progress to the league final. If they finish in second or third place in the division they will contest a semi-final contest, the winners sealing a final berth on the weekend of April 2.