Westmeath Senior and U21 footballers face Royal battle

John Heslins form for the under 21s has been impressive to date. Photo: John O'Brien

John Heslins form for the under 21s has been impressive to date. Photo: John O'Brien

Westmeath’s senior and U21 footballers both have crunch games this Saturday against near neighbours Meath. At 2pm our U21s welcome Meath to Mullingar to contest the Leinster quarter final. There is a 7.30pm throw-in in Pairc Tailteann for the third round of the National Football League.

U21 Leinster quarter final

Our U21s will again enjoy home advantage at they go head-to-head with a highly rated Meath outfit. Westmeath of course have already accounted for Kildare but will be looking for an improved performance if they are to progress to a semi-final.

A somewhat lethargic performance, particularly up front in their last outing, might yet prove to be a blessing in disguise. On paper at least, Westmeath would seem to have the forwards to keep any scoreboard official busy. Yet they only managed a total of 1-6 against the Lillywhites, including just a single point in the second half. Brendan Hackett and Finbar Egan are sure to have targeted this area for correction. Against Meath every scoring opportunity will have to be converted. The players themselves will be keen to show that their previous toothless display was not a true reflection of their ability.

A forward line with the likes of Durkan, Egan, Lynam, McDaniels, McCormack, and Coffey should be a test for any defence. On Saturday they will need to step up to the plate and deliver. It is games like this on which reputations are built.

John Heslin and Denis Coroon will be hoping to repeat their previous round performance. Both are great prospects for the coming years at senior level.

In defence Caulry’s Ben Moran and Kevin McGuire along with Kinnegad’s Ronan Doyle make up a strong full-back line in front of goalkeeper Darren Quinn. Ger Egan, Kieran Martin, and Marc McCallan form a mobile and alert half-back line.

Meath for their part have high hopes for their charges. Like Westmeath, they too are well balanced and would appear to have strength in depth. They will be looking to the likes of centre-back Brian Menton, midfielders Conor Gillespie and Craig Berrigan, and forwards Brian Sheridan and Mark Collins for leadership.

Meath will probably enter the game as slight favourites. However at a time when Westmeath football needs a boost like never before, I expect our maroon and white clad men to stand up and be counted. They have the talent; on Saturday they must deliver.

NFL Round 3

Wesmeath travel to Navan on Saturday evening desperately needing to win. Pointless after two games and with a score difference of -24 (only London and Kilkenny have worse averages ) the pressure is mounting to get results.

At the best of times Pairc Tailteann is never an easy venue to visit. It is harder again with a relatively inexperienced side and when morale is not as high as it might be. Oh, and it looks likely that Denis Glennon won’t be involved either. If that wasn’t bad enough, Meath welcome back a fully fit Joe Sheridan. Not surprisingly I’m not too optimistic about a happy outcome - though I hope I’m proved wrong.

Reports are that Denis has left the panel after some sort of a dispute. Whatever hope we have of winning something with him on board, our chances are greatly reduced in his absence. Supporters will be well aware that this is not the first time that Denis has decided to quit the panel, so perhaps he will be back.

Whatever his reasons are, and I’m sure he feels justified in his decision, looking at it from the outside it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Westmeath need their more experienced heads to show leadership as they try and steer their way out of this rough patch.

Denis has given a lot to Westmeath football since bursting onto the scene in 2004. He also has plenty more to offer. There is no doubt that some of his actions, including this one, are frustrating from a supporter’s point of view. After all it is an honour - not a right - to play for your county. At the end of the day however, it is Denis’ decision. Hopefully some sort of a resolution can be found.

Carlow teach Westmeath hurlers a lesson

Carlow 5-17

Westmeath 1-10

Westmeath hurling manager Kevin Martin was left scratching his head after his side slumped to a 19 point drubbing at the hands of Carlow. The Lake County trailed 3-7 to 0-7 at the break. Their cause had not been helped by the sending off of wing back Paul Greville.

Brendan Murtagh, although named on the programme, did not start the game but was introduced. Carlow showed no mercy with corner forward Kevin Ryan bagging 2-5.

Overall this was a game to forget for all concerned. Serious work is needed to improve if they are to collect their first points when they take on Kildare in two weeks time.

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