It’s a big weekend for the footballers of Garrycastle as they travel to Pearse Park, Longford on Sunday to contest the quarter-final of the Leinster club championship. Longford champions Clonguish, backboned by the Barden brothers, provide the opposition.
It’s now five weeks since Gary Dolan raised the Flanagan Cup aloft but the Westmeath champions have been busy in the meantime preparing for Sunday’s game. Garrycastle have made it clear from the time they became the Westmeath representatives that they would give the provincial championship a right good rattle. For the majority of the team winning the county championship was nothing new. The more experienced players like Dessie and Gary Dolan, Cathal Mullen, Karl Henson, Stephen O’Reilly, Seanie O’Donoghoe and David O’Shaughnessy will see this as an opportunity to really put their club on the map outside Wesmeath.
Clonguish overcame Wexford champions Horeswood with ease in the opening round which shows they will be no pushover. Paul Barden showed he’s in fine form at present kicking 1-4 in a man of the match display. Anthony Cunningham will no doubt devise a plan to limit the influence of the talented Clonguish man.
Even though it is an away match,Garrycastle have every reason to travel with confidence. Paddy Mulvihill who missed all of the county championship through injury is back fit and in fine form. He kicked 2-1 to mark his return as Garrycastle were crowned league champions. His return is a major boost to the green and reds heading into the provincial campaign.
Ironically Paddy’s nephew Shane, who has been a massive addition to Garrycastle this year, is ruled out through a hamstring injury which cut short his county final participation. It is likely that Paddy will slot into wing forward in his absence.
Another big plus for Garrycastle in every sense of the word, is the return to fitness of David O’Shaughnessy. His experience and leadership qualities will be a massive boon to the Westmeath representatives . Younger brother John is also back in action having missed most of the action this season. He will also do a job in defence if called upon.
Having failed to make any inroads in the provincial championship in previous years, I can’t help feeling that things could be a little different this time around for Anthony Cunningham’s men. The players themselves are hungry for success while Cunnningham himself knows what it takes to be crowned provincial champions, having guided St Brigid’s to a Connacht title a few years ago.
No medals will be presented in Pearse Park on Sunday but a valuable place in a Leinster club semi-final is the prize on offer. As is usually the case in these provincial games at this time of the year scoring is likely to be relatively low with only a point or two separating the teams at the long whistle. I expect Garrycastle to march on.
Tubberclare face Wicklow champions
Tubberclare will enjoy home advantage for their rescheduled clash with Dunlavin (Wicklow ) which takes place on Saturday at 2.30pm. Dreadful weather led to the postponement of the game last weekend. With things expected to be a whole lot better this weekend, it is hoped the game will proceed.
Dunlavin are a bit of an unknown quantity in these parts. Yet given the form which Tubberclare showed en route to claiming the Westmeath crown it will take a good team to beat them. A few players including talented Ian Coffey and Rory Walsh are injury concerns but will be hoping to take part.
Home advantage is always welcome and it could be the difference between the sides.
Caulry hit the road
Westmeath junior champions Caulry take to the road this Sunday where a long journey to Blackwater in Wexford awaits. The Wexford champions have already accounted for Laois champions Ballyfin by seven points so the men from Mount Temple will be under no illusions.
A difficult journey, and not having had competitive action for a number of weeks will not help the reds but with a place in a provincial semi-final at stake they are bound to give a good account of themselves.
Clonkill through to Leinster hurling semi-final
Clough Ballacolla 2-12
Westmeath senior hurling champions Clonkill enjoyed a seven point win over Laois champions Clough Ballacolla last weekend. Brendan Murtagh again underlined his class with a personal tally of 1-9.
They now enjoy home advantage when they welcome newly crowned Offaly champions Tullamore to Cusack Park on Sunday week for the Leinster semi-final.