Westmeath’s minor footballers face a major battle this weekend as they face Meath in the Leinster minor football quarter-final. Ger Heavin’s young charges face the added difficulty of having to travel to the lions’ den to take on the reigning provincial champions. Having easily accounted for Carlow in the opening round this will be a much sterner test.
Meath are backboned by many from the St Pat’s Navan nursery and are a physically strong side that play a direct brand of football. They needed extra time to account for Offaly in their opening round tie.
Westmeath have been impressive in recent challenges against Offaly and Cavan and will need to be at their best again on Saturday. Team captain Alan Fitzpatrick, who collected a Leinster colleges medal with Athlone Community College last year, can be relied on to lead by example around midfield. He will be looking for good assistance from the likes of club-mate Ben Moran, Ger Egan, Callum McCormack, and John Heslin amongst others.
Westmeath have a number of injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game. Garrycastle’s Shane Mulvihill, Brian Mulvihill (Athlone ), and Rochfordbridge clubman Eoin Gorman are the main concerns. Highly talented half back Shane Mulvihill has an ankle problem and will be a big loss. Gorman has been in fine form recently, scoring 2-3 in a recent challenge against Cavan.
With that said, Heavin and his selectors have a strong panel at their disposal. It will still be 15 against 15. This is an opportunity for a number of players who were a part of last year’s side to make amends for the slip up against Offaly. It will take a huge effort, but as Shane Lowry recently showed, with the right attitude, nothing is impossible.
Hopefully our minor footballers can take heart from their hurling counterparts’ great win last week against Offaly and likewise secure a place in the provincial semi-final.
Senior Football championship round two
Round two of the Westmeath senior football championship takes place this weekend. All games throw in at 7.45pm (except Tyrrellspass/Malachy’s 6.30pm ). On Saturday Castledaly should account for Bunbrosna when the sides clash in Ballymore. Bunbrosna were well beaten by Maryland in their opener, while Castledaly lost their opener to a late Killucan goal. I expect them to get back to winning ways here.
There are two games down for decision on Sunday. Moate is the venue for the meeting of Athlone and Corralstown/Kinnegad. Both sides enjoyed opening round wins over St Malachys and The Downs respectively. Colm Coyle is in charge of Kinnegad this year and he seems to be getting the best out of them.
Athlone will be without the suspended Dermie Bannon, who is a big loss. A win here would set either team up nicely, but in what promises to be a close encounter, a draw cannot be ruled out.
Also on Sunday in Cusack Park St Loman’s take on The Downs. The Downs have struggled to hit form so far this year and I expect St Loman’s to take both points here.
The remaining three games take place on Monday evening. In Cusack Park, Tyrrellspass should have too much firepower for St Malachy’s.
In the second game in Cusack Park, Mullingar Shamrocks will be tested to the full by Killucan but should come out on top.
Tubberclare is the venue for the remaining tie, the clash of near neighbours Maryland and Garrycastle. Dessie Dolan is rated doubtful. Maryland were impressive in their opener against Bunbrosna but will find the going tougher here. The Castles’ greater experience should see them bag both points on offer.
Memorable win for minor hurlers
Under the astute guidance of Seamie Qualter, Westmeath’s minor hurlers progressed to the semi-final of the Leinster championship thanks to a rare but fully merited win over near neighbours Offaly. Even a late Offaly goal was not enough to stop this determined Lake County outfit. Midfielder Colin O’Brien got his side’s only goal while goalkeeper Cathal Scally, Cormac Boyle, and Barry O’Meara were others who caught the eye in a an impressive team display.
They now face Kilkenny in the semi-final and while the odds will be firmly stacked against them, they are sure to give a good account of themselves.