Should the Westmeath senior footballers achieve their aspirations on Saturday evening in Croke Park, the honour of being the inaugural captain to raise the Tailteann Cup aloft will be bestowed upon Caulry club player, Kevin Maguire.
Having first donned the maroon and white colours in 2011, the primary school teacher will be utilising his years of learning as a pivotal member of the Westmeath team, Cavan providing the Tailteann Cup final opposition upon GAA HQ throw in (3pm ).
A large Westmeath supporting contingent will journey east to the capital in the hope of witnessing the first Westmeath senior football captain to give a winning acceptance speech since David O’Shaughnessy in 2004 and with the ever improving performances of this team, the realisation of such an eventuality is a strong possibility.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser on Monday morning, Kevin was in anticipatory mood as he spoke of the team’s desire to achieve a successful conclusion to their competitive season.
“There certainly is a buoyant mood amongst the management and players and training has been extremely positive, particularly since our semi-final victory over Offaly. Thankfully, there are no major injuries within the camp and we travel to Croke Park on Saturday with a squad all competing for a starting berth.
“To be involved at intercounty championship level at this stage of the season is a massive boost for the county and we are all focused on the playing task which will evolve on Saturday. Spirits are naturally raised when there is silverware at stake and certainly we will be hoping that our goal can be achieved this weekend,” Kevin asserted.
The addition of Westmeath All-Star footballers, John Keane and Dessie Dolan, has been wholly beneficial this season, their positive impact complement the managerial nous of Jack Cooney.
“Both John and Dessie have had a major impact on the manner in which we approach games and have instilled a belief in the playing squad that Westmeath can compete and challenge for honours at a national level.
“While we were disappointed to exit the provincial championship at the semi-final stage, we have since eradicated the basic errors which contributed to this defeat and now, we are in a good moment prior to the Tailteann Cup final.
“Having honed his coaching craft with Garrycastle in recent seasons John is an excellent coach, while Dessie’s knowledge of the game is vast and when he speaks players listen to his words. They both complement Jack who has immense pride in Westmeath and is all heart for the county cause,” Kevin added.
Looking towards Saturday’s final, the captain, who, dons the full back jersey, but regularly contributes from an offensive perspective, is of the view that Cavan will bring a level of performance similar to that which earned them the Ulster senior football title in 2020.
“I don’t believe that we will see a similar performance to that which earned Cavan victory over Sligo. They were Ulster senior football champions in 2020 so I will be expecting their display to be of a standard which earned them the provincial title. Yes, they will provide a very stern challenge, but we have competed against Division 1 teams in the recent past and hopefully, the experienced gained from these particular games, will stand us in positive stead on Saturday,” Kevin concluded.