An enticing local derby awaits the Westmeath senior footballers in Croke Park on Sunday week, June 19, a Tailteann Cup semi-final contest with Offaly the reward for victory over Carlow in the quarter final stage of the competition on Sunday afternoon last.
A five point success in Dr Cullen Park was wholly merited, the Lake County in control for the vast majority of an open contest which yielded 37 scores as both teams sought a place in the final four of the Tailteann Cup.
Having accounted for Tipperary the previous weekend, Westmeath were aware of the threat posed by Carlow, but a strong start to the game, during which the visitors scored 1-4, set the tone for victory.
Carlow responded and the concession of two first half goals, both very much avoidable, offered the home team a lifeline when Westmeath should have been further to the scoring fore at the half time whistle.
Westmeath’s two point interval lead was not reflective of their territorial dominance and an eventual 11 point haul in the second half was just reflection of the team’s cohesive efforts over the duration of the contest.
Sam McCartan continued his fine championship form with three points from play with talisman John Heslin continuing his rich vein of scoring form concluding the contest with a personal tally of 1-9.
Playmaker, Ronan O’Toole, also positively impacted, but in the main, this was an improved team display and one which gives cause for future optimism with the semi-final very much on the horizon.
Speaking following the victory, team manager, Jack Cooney, noted the positive aspects of the performance as he looked forward to a final four joust with Offaly.
“This certainly was an improvement on our display against Laois and while we were disappointed to concede two soft goals in the first half we managed to gain control in the second half and earn our victory.
“We managed to kick scores at crucial times in the game, an aspect of our display with which I was most pleased and even though we should have stretched out our first half lead I do believe that as a team we are continuing to improve,” Jack asserted.
Looking towards the semi-final on Sunday week, Jack stated that it was great to be once again travelling to Croke Park for a game of such importance.
“It is great for the players, management and the supporters to be travelling to Croke Park for a semi-final fixture. Our support in Carlow was strong and I can assure the Westmeath fans that our players fully appreciate their travelling efforts,” Jack concluded.
Westmeath and Offaly last faced off in the championship in 2017, the Lake County emerging victorious after a replay by an 11 point margin.