Mass disappointment as the Garden County end Westmeath’s provincial championship journey

ronan fagan

A week is a long time in politics is a well versed adage. Similar can be uttered pertaining to matters sport such an emotion coming to unfortunate realisation in O'Moore Park Portlaoise on Sunday afternoon as the Westmeath footballers exited the Leinster senior football championship following a one point defeat to Wicklow.

Buoyant departing Croke Park the previous weekend upon Allianz National Football League Division 3 success, Westmeath's jubilation was swiftly replaced by a feeling of mass disappointment as their quest to progress in the provincial competition was thwarted by the Garden County.

Opting to play against a strong wind in the opening half, Westmeath were swiftly under pressure from a well drilled Wicklow opposition, a goal from centrefielder Dean Healy just rewards for their efforts as the Lake County struggled to achieve in game tempo.

Westmeath's solitary score in the first half was a point on 21 minutes from Luke Loughlin and trailing by seven points at the interval, the 2022 Tailteann Cup winners faced a serious test of their championship credentials as the second half commenced.

Rousing words from the management at half time appeared to have impacted as Westmeath emerged from the dressing room more focused on the task required scoring four consecutive points courtesy of a brace from Robbie Forde, Ronan O'Toole and substitute John Heslin.

Westmeath continued to exert pressure, but Wicklow remained doughty opponents, a second goal from JP Nolan midway through the second half extending the victor's lead to eight points and momentarily quelling Westmeath momentum.

The Division 3 champions responded with an opportunist Jonathan Lynam goal a minute later to set the tone for a frenetic closing quarter as Westmeath sought to retrieve the scoring deficit as the game neared its conclusion.

The lead was whittled down to two points as the game entered five minutes of injury time but the shrill of the referee's final whistle arrived much to the immense disappointment of Westmeath players and management as scoreboard parity seemed inevitable such was the pressure being exerted by the Lake County.

Westmeath return to training unsure of their championship fate. As the players and management refocus, their championship future depends on a number of permutations, the outcome of which will determine if they are to play the remainder of their season contesting for Sam Maguire or the Tailteann Cup.


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