Roscommon travel to Meath with bit between their teeth

Athlone's Tom Stuart Trainer heads for goal during last weekend’s defeat to Tyrrellspass in the senior football championship in Moate. Photo: John O'Brien.

Athlone's Tom Stuart Trainer heads for goal during last weekend’s defeat to Tyrrellspass in the senior football championship in Moate. Photo: John O'Brien.

Roscommon advanced to round three of the qualifiers with a victory over Wexford in Dr Hyde Park on Saturday, winning by three points in the end on a score line of 11 points to eight. Roscommon have the freetaking of Donie Shine to thank as he almost single-handedly booted them into the next round with a fabulous display of placekicking. Shine scored nine of Roscommon’s 11 points, eight of which came from placed balls. Roscommon manager Fergal O’Donnell will only know too well that if Roscommon are to progress further in this year’s championship, scoring three points from play will not be enough. Wexford had a number of chances and can blame some wayward shooting for their championship exit. They kicked 10 wides in the second half and if Meath’s forwards get the same amount of possession this weekend they will not be as wasteful.

There were fantastic scenes at the final whistle as the players, management team, and supporters embraced each other. There is no doubt that it had been a tough time for all concerned since their defeat to Mayo but this victory has certainly restored some pride back into the county. Roscommon now travel to Pairc Tailteann in Navan this Saturday full of confidence with the winners going on to play Limerick in the fourth round of the qualifiers. Roscommon will still be without the injured trio of David Keenan, John Nolan, and Karl Mannion but hope Gary Cox will be fit enough to return to take his place in the side this weekend. Meath have had a week’s break since their 10 point victory over Westmeath and Eamonn O’Brien’s charges will be very tough to beat.

Roscommon minors

Roscommon minors must meet Mayo again as the teams finished all square in the Connacht minor final on Sunday last. Mayo, who were overwhelming favourites going into the game got out of jail with a late Aidan Walsh free bringing the game to a replay. Roscommon will feel they should have put the game beyond Mayo’s reach as they kicked 15 wides and really dominated proceedings for large periods of the game. However, Roscommon do have home advantage this weekend and with more composure on front of goals, they are more than capable of overcoming Mayo.

Westmeath club championship

The third round of the Westmeath senior football championship was played last weekend. Mullingar Shamrocks had a one point victory over last year’s winner’s Castledaly on a scoreline of 1-10 to 1-09. Shamrocks were quite fortunate to take full points from this game as their goal from Cian O’Leary came two minutes from time. This now leaves them in a strong position to qualify and with Bunbrosna and Maryland to play they will be fancied to top the group and head straight into the semi-final. This defeat means Castledaly face a struggle to qualify for the knockout stages as they have only one win from three games. Garrycastle will also have ideas of taking that semi-final slot after a very easy victory over Bunbrosna on a scoreline of 5-14 to 0-5. Three goals in a 5 minute period before half-time meant the game was over as a contest as Bunbrosna heads began to drop as the second half became target practice for the south Westmeath men. Bunbrosna are yet to register a point in this year’s championship and now need to regroup and get a result against Mullingar or Killucan if they are to avoid a relegation playoff. Maryland are the story of the championship to date, with the relative ease in which they have adapted to life in the senior grade. They have a very good mix of youth and experience and play a very attractive style of football. They beat Killucan by seven points on a scoreline of 1-16 to 1-09. This now leaves Maryland safe from relegation, while another victory could see the Drumraney men sneak a quarter-final spot.

In the other side of the draw, Coralstown Kinnegad had a one point victory over St. Lomans in what was a real cliffhanger, which brought about seven goals. While the quality of defending at times was dubious, it was a cracking match with both sides throwing caution to the wind. Colm Coyle will be happy with the battling qualities that his side showed as they were five points down with less than 15 minutes to play. Athlone’s unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of Tyrrellspass on a score line of 2-07 to 10 points. Two first half goals proved decisive as Tyrrellspass remain unbeaten in this year’s championship. Athlone now need to beat either The Downs and St. Loman’s to have any chance of qualifying. Brendan Clarke’s men will be disappointed with this result but happy with how close they pushed the former county champions and can take many positives from the game. The Downs are now in relegation trouble after St Malachy’s narrow victory on a score line of 1-7 to 1-6. Both teams came into this game without a win in the campaign so stakes were high. The Downs, with Luke Dempsey parading the sideline, had ample opportunities to win this game but a far more economical side battled gamely and Alan Mangan’s free in injury was enough to give them a much needed one point win. The Downs now face a real test of character as they need to pick up points in their remaining games against Athlone and Tyrrellspass. Interesting times lie ahead for all teams.

Next Westmeath manager?

The task of finding a replacement for outgoing Westmeath manager, Tomas O’Flatharta is set to commence in the very near future. Already there is speculation as to who will take over the hotseat. The first debate is whether the new manager will come from within the county or will the Westmeath county board be searching further afield to replace the Dublin- based banker? Current selector Pat Flanagan has emerged as the early favourite to succeed the Kerry native as Westmeath football manager. The Offaly native has had a very good record in club management and is now thought to be interested in progressing into inter-county management. Indeed Flanagan guided Tyrrellspass to back-to-back senior football titles in 2006 and 2007 and so has a very good knowledge of the Westmeath club scene. He also won a senior title with Clara in Offaly and also brought Kilbeggan to intermediate glory a number of years ago.

Dessie Dolan Senior is another possible candidate who would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the set up, something that is vital after Westmeath’s nightmare season. He, like Flanagan, has an excellent club CV, winning club titles with teams such as Ballymahon in Longford and Shannonbridge in Offaly. He, on the other hand has inter-county experience having managed Leitrim for three years, turning them into an extremely tough team to beat in that period. He is sure to prove a popular choice with many. Other names mentioned include Spike Fagan and Bernard Flynn. While these two shrewd Mullingar businessmen were excellent footballers and gave fantastic services to their counties in their playing days, they have very little managerial experience which may go against them. Luke Dempsey however won’t be reuniting with Westmeath any time soon as he has agreed to continue on as Carlow manager for another year.

The plot thickens...


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