A selector in 2004 when Westmeath historically won their first Leinster senior football championship, Lake County manager, Jack Cooney, is aiming to replicate silverware success in Croke Park on Saturday afternoon in the Tailteann Cup final.
Having afforded a wealth of playing and managerial service to the county cause, victory over Cavan this weekend will be just reward for Jack’s continued commitment to Westmeath and his positive impact on the playing squad is clearly evident as the team continues to evolve and deliver spirited performances.
While provincial championship elimination was a major disappointment, Jack, complemented by his experienced backroom management team, swiftly refocused the players’ minds and having embraced this Tailteann Cup competition are now within touching distance of being its inaugural winners.
With the final imminent, Jack spoke with the Athlone Advertiser this week and lauded the cohesive efforts of his playing squad, reflecting on seven months of competitive action which will come to its conclusion on Saturday.
“While we started our National Football League campaign in January, preparations commenced for the season to come prior to this and to give due credit to the players they have given their all, our reward now being a place in the Tailteann Cup final.
“The atmosphere in training is one of positivity and to still be involved at intercounty level at this stage of the season with silverware to be won adds to the growing spirit amongst management and players,” Jack enthused.
Westmeath have enjoyed a three week break since the comprehensive semi-final victory over Offaly and should they replicate the same level of performance in the final supporters may well see maroon and white ribbons adorn the Tailteann Cup on Saturday evening.
“In contrast to our previous outings in the competition we have had three weeks to prepare for Saturday’s final. I think we have managed the period well with regards to training load on the players and hopefully, we will have all the squad available for selection in Croke Park,” Jack asserted.
Steeped in GAA tradition, the Coralstown-Kinnegad clubman has been in tactic preparation mode prior to Saturday’s showpiece occasion and as team training comes to a conclusion this week, Jack notes the threat posed by final opponents, Cavan.
“Cavan are a county of huge pedigree with physically assertive players laced throughout their starting team. Micky Graham is a manager of repute and we will have to be at our absolute peak to defeat our Ulster opposition on Saturday.
“Hopefully, our two previous games in Croke Park will be of benefit. It is our last game of the season and we aim to give our all to win this final. I am of the view that this will be a closely contested championship fixture and we will need to display our best form if we are to emerge victorious come the shrill of the final whistle,” Jack concluded.