Positives gleaned for Westmeath despite league loss to Sligo in Markievicz Park

ronan fagan

In the shadow of Benbulben, Westmeath, despite loss to Sligo, achieved their inaugural goal for the competitive season when they secured promotion to Allianz National Football League division two on Sunday afternoon.

This defeat marked the end of the Lake County’s unbeaten run of form, but from a positive perspective, a league final place has been gleaned, Dessie Dolan’s charges journeying to Croke Park on Saturday night to play Down in the division three showpiece fixture.

The game was also notable for the return of talisman John Heslin who featured as a half-time substitute and impacted the scoreboard with two points as the second moiety progressed.

In the ascendancy at the interval, courtesy of three points from Luke Loughlin, a brace from Ronan O’Toole and one from David Lynch, Westmeath were not to hit similar levels in the second half, Sligo outscoring the visitors by eight points - a goalbound save in added time from Yeats County custodian Aidan Devaney failing to yield a more respectable look on the scoreboard as the shrill of the final whistle resonated around Markievicz Park.

One defeat from seven round robin league fixtures played, the Westmeath senior football management will be satisfied with the team’s progress made to date. An initial promotion target has been achieved and an opportunity to add silverware on Saturday night in Croke Park awaits.

The return of scorer-in-chief John Heslin is a timely boost and should the St Lomans player gain additional minutes at GAA HQ this weekend, this can only augur positively prior to the start of Westmeath’s Leinster senior championship campaign on April 7.

There is now a strong possibility that Westmeath play five competitive fixtures in as many weeks, much to ask of amateur players, as they try to balance what is required of them as county footballers with their daily working routines.

The opening round of the Leinster senior football championship will be played in Portlaoise on April 7 (throw-in, 3.30pm ). Should Westmeath emerge victorious, they then face a quarter final fixture with Kildare on Sunday, April 14.

This will culminate the five consecutive competitive fixtures with a two week break prior to the provincial semi-final on Sunday, April 28.

Such demands on players may give cause for an escalation in injuries, Dessie Dolan and his fellow management hoping that their charges come through the fixtures unscathed with momentum continuing to build as the championship progresses.


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