Fielding an experimental team which featured numerous debutants, Westmeath suffered defeat to Kildare in their opening group phase O’Byrne Cup fixture on Saturday afternoon last in Newbridge.
Trailing by seven points at the half time interval, the Lake County’s play was more fluid during the second period of the contest, but a more cohesive Kildare unit proved to strong over the duration, Luke Loughlin and Ray Connellan being Westmeath’s sole scorers in St Conleth’s Park.
Jack Cooney will have had ample opportunity to garner his future playing squad thoughts with the donning of the maroon and white jersey being a ‘first time’ experience for many.
Advancing to the semi-final of the competition now appears unlikely following this defeat, but the manager and his backroom team will have a further opportunity to gauge the mindset of the playing squad this weekend with Carlow the visitors to TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Sunday afternoon as the Lake County complete their O’Byrne Cup group phase experience.
A positive performance with a matching result would certainly be a boost to confidence levels prior to the opening Allianz National Football League fixture against Wicklow on Sunday, January 30.
A swift return to the second tier of national league football is the obvious goal and with seven fixtures awaiting, Westmeath will be hopeful of a successful start to their campaign.