When Westmeath step on to the hallowed Croke Park surface on Saturday it will be the team’s fourth fixture in the inaugural Tailteann Cup competition, a journey to this showpiece occasion which commenced with a three point victory over Laois in O’Moore Park, on May 29.
Reduced to 14 players in the opening half, it appeared that Jack Cooney’s Tailteann Cup experience would be shortlived, but this Westmeath is laden with character and spirit and when Sam McCartan netted at a crucial stage of the second half it inspired his teammates, the Lake County advancing to the quarter final with a three point win (LAOIS 0-13 WESTMEATH 1-13 ).
The Westmeath supporters were on the road once again for the quarter final contest with Carlow on June 5. With John Heslin in sublime scoring mode, Westmeath were in control for large periods of the game, two first half goals by the hosts maintaining their interest in proceedings. Come the shrill of the final whistle, a five point win for maroon and white was secured and a return visit to Croke Park for a semi-final date (CARLOW 2-13 WESTMEATH 1-21 ).
The draw for the semi-final was much anticipated, the prospect of playing near neighbours Offaly now a possibility, With the fixture realised, a journey to Croke Park ensued, Westmeath arguably with their performance of the competitive season to date, emerging victorious by a deserved nine point scoring margin. Fluidity of movement on and off the ball amongst the starting team was clearly evident with players comfortable in their roles and expressing their vast abilities on the green swathe of Croke Park. Dominant over the playing duration, players reacted ecstatically to the final whistle, a place in the inaugural Tailteann Cup final annexed (WESTMEATH 3-22 OFFALY 2-16 ).