The quest for senior football championship silverware remains for Westmeath despite loss to Kildare in the provincial semi-final in Croke Park on Sunday afternoon.
As hopes for further progression in the Leinster championship abruptly faded at GAA HQ, thoughts for the management and players now turn towards the first round of the Tailteann Cup and a journey to O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, to play familiar playing foes, Laois.
Despite the boost of a goal on 12 seconds from Ronan O'Toole, Westmeath failed to capitalise on a strong start to this contest and when Kildare attained scorebaord ascendancy on eight minutes the Lilywhites did not relinquish their control of proceedings until the shrill of the full time whistle.
In play turnovers proved crucial to the game's final outcome, the Lake County conceding nine scores (1-8 ) as a result of exerted Kildare pressure in the first half.
A goal from wing-back Jamie Gonoud gave cause for Westmeath optimism in advance of the second half, but as the contest progressed Kildare showed the experience gained from playing at the higher echelon of league football this season, extending their lead to six points, the Lake County forcing the play when recycling possession to avail of better scoring opportunities was a necessity.
Four successive white flags reduced the Kildare lead as the game elapsed and when Sam McCartan pointed, a mere goal separated the teams in stoppage time. Unfortunately, match referee, Sean Hurson, called a halt to proceedings, a brave Westmeath showing not enough to secure a place in the Leinster senior football final.
Reflecting on the loss, team manager, Jack Cooney, noted that despite the team's in game turnovers, they were very much in contention as the game progressed in the second half.
"Despite turning over possession which unfortunately resulted in Kildare scores we were very much in contention midway through the second half of the game and were it not for three or four wides the outcome may have been in our favour.
"At times we forced the play when it was wise not to do so in particular scenarios. The goals kept us very much alive in the game, but you have to take those scoring opportunities as they present when the game is nearing its conclusion," Jack asserted.
The Tailteann Cup now awaits and Jack is fully expecting his players to refocus in the hope of achieving silverware this season.
"The players showed great character particularly in the second half of the game. Yes, we are disappointed, but now is the time to refocus and put all our efforts into the Tailteann Cup. These players love playing for Westmeath so it will not be difficult to keep a positive mindset when we return to competitive action. There is still a lot to play for this summer," Jack concluded.