The tantalising thought of a place in the inaugural Tailteann Cup final is certainly etched in the minds of the Westmeath senior footballers and management this week as a semi-final contest with Offaly awaits on the vast green swathe of Croke Park on Sunday afternoon (throw in, 4pm ).
Having earned a final four place with consecutive victories over Laois and Carlow, the Lake County will be hoping of achieving their goal and a rare opportunity to add silverware to the county’s roll of honour.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser on Monday afternoon, team manager, Jack Cooney, noted the benefits of competing in the Tailteann Cup as his thoughts turn towards securing a place in the showpiece fixture.
“Obviously, it would be great to reverse the result of our most recent appearance in Croke Park and the players are firmly focused on the challenge which awaits on Sunday.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed our participation in the Tailteann Cup and it has allowed the management to continue our development of this young squad. The additional games played following our exit from the Leinster championship can only be beneficial for the group going forward,” Jack asserted.
Reflecting on the quarter final success over Carlow, Jack stated that he was proud with the manner in which the team responded to the hosts two first half goals exerting their superiority when it mattered most during the course of the contest.
“The two goals which we unfortunately conceded in the opening half would have dampened the spirits of many teams but we asserted our playing principles on the game in that second half and earned a deserved victory. We now need to build on this performance on Sunday. It is certainly a development process,” Jack added.
Looking towards the local derby contest on Sunday, Jack spoke of the ‘rising tide’ currently flowing within the Offaly GAA environment.
“Offaly were unlucky to have suffered relegation at the conclusion of their National Football League Division 2 campaign and will most definitely be ready for the semi-final on Sunday. The investment in their underage structure in recent years is coming to fruition now and guided by the management nous of John Maughan and selector, Tomás O’Sé, Offaly will certainly provide a stern test of our playing credentials.
“I have no doubt that a close contest will ensue, but hopefully with the backing of a large Westmeath support in Croke Park, we will be in positive spirits come the shrill of the final whistle on Sunday,” Jack concluded.