The quest for Flanagan Cup success commenced this past weekend as local clubs contested their opening fixtures in the Westmeath senior football championship.
Fresh from the county’s historic Tailteann Cup victory, spectators descended upon GAA grounds in large numbers, a noticeable enthusiasm for club football clearly evident as the rising summer temperatures were reflected by the levels of intensity displayed in the numerous fixtures which took place.
Striving to regain the county title last won in 2019, Garrycastle opened their championship campaign with a two point victory over Mullingar Shamrocks in Ballymore on Friday night. Three points from James Dolan set the tone for success with notable scoring contributions from Justin Barrett and Cathal Mannion ensuring the eight time Flanagan Cup winners claimed their first brace of Group A points.
Athlone, aiming to erase the disappointment of senior football championship 2021, started their Group B campaign with a deserved four point win over newly promoted Tang. Shooting 18 wides over the duration, Athlone still contrived to eke out a much needed victory, James Finlass’ first half goal proving crucial to the outcome. An injury to talisman Ray Connellan dampened aftermath spirits and with four Group B fixtures remaining the management duo of Eoin Jordan and Fergal Murray will be hoping that the prominent centrefielder will be available for selection imminently.
Caulry entered the senior football championship fray on Sunday evening, journeying to TEG Cusack Park for an opening encounter against reigning champions, St Lomans. Having pushed the Mullingar club close at the quarter final stage of last year’s competition hopes were high that the Mount Temple/Baylin club would replicate such form but the current Flanagan Cup holders showed their vast in game experience, earning a merited 11 point victory, the absence of Westmeath captain, Kevin Maguire, proving detrimental to Caulry’s chances.
Meanwhile, in Group B on Sunday afternoon, despite the intense heat conditions, Moate All Whites, who will be hoping to improve upon last year’s senior championship showing, rallied late on to secure a draw with Killucan. A wonder goal from Killucan with minutes remaining appeared to have sealed victory for the North Westmeath club, but a Robbie Forde free in injury time ensured that the All Whites did not taste defeat in their opening game.
Having failed to advance to the latter stages of last year’s senior football championship, Rosemount started their Group B campaign with a Sunday afternoon throw in against Tyrrellspass in Rochfortbridge.
A low scoring first half saw Tyrrellspass hold a slender three point lead, but with talisman, Ger Egan to the scoring fore, the 2020 finalists exerted their second half superiority leading by nine points as the game entered the final quarter. A late scoring rally from Rosemount reduced the scoreboard arrears - Sean Pettit netting a penalty - the black and amber hoping for more rewarding outings as the round robin fixtures progress in the coming weeks.