The famine continues. Yet another year has passed where Westmeath’s minor footballers have failed to even challenge for honours. An impressive opening round win over Carlow proved to be a false dawn as Longford came to town last Saturday and took away the spoils. A further sign that more needs to be done to improve the standard of underage football in the county. One wonders how our senior team in the coming years can be successful if we are not capable of competing for honours at minor level.
Losing at home to near neighbours Longford, on a scoreline of 1-6 to 0-6, is not something to be proud of. The nature of the defeat is even more worrying than the result itself. Ger Heavin’s young charges only managed 0-2 from play over the hour along with four pointed frees.
Not to take from Longford, who were deserving winners, Westmeath’s over-reliance on John Heslin, and inefficiency up-front cost them dearly. After many fine performances already this year, it was unfortunate that Heslin was not flying on all cylinders last Saturday. No doubt he, and hopefully a few more of his colleagues, will have better days to come in the maroon and white.
Westmeath trailed by 0-5 to 0-2 at the break and were lucky the gap was not greater as Longford had squandered a number of goal chances. Without ever hitting full form, the Westmeath men did manage to reduce the deficit to the bare minimum after 50 minutes.
Then came the major turning point that swung the game irrevocably in Longford’s favour. Westmeath had a free to draw level and opted to go short. Possession was lost and Longford raided down field where they were awarded, and duly converted, a penalty.
Longford now progress to a Leinster semi-final while Westmeath will be left wondering how their performance was so flat despite home advantage.
Wicklow game fast approaching
Pat Flanagan has been a busy man since taking over as interim manager of our senior footballers. With only a matter of weeks between his appointment and the opening round clash against Wicklow on June 6, Flanagan has his work cut out to restore confidence to the squad ahead of this all important clash. Yet reports are that things are going well in the camp and there is every reason to be optimistic on the short journey to Tullamore on Sunday week.
The return of Dessie Dolan and Denis Glennon is a major plus. Between them they accounted for 0-11 out of 1-19 in a recent challenge against an under-strength Dublin side. Every team needs their best players available if they are to be competitive. As well as the vital scoring threat which both players offer, their experience is equally important as Westmeath rebuild.
In recent weeks Westmeath have played a number of valuable challenge games. They beat Clare before losing to Mayo and a Dublin representative side. Performance and scoring rate have improved since the league and hopefully this will continue on June 6.
Gary Connaughton remains an injury doubt while his clubmate Fergal Wilson is ruled out with a hand injury.
Micko’s side will be favourites going into this clash given their impressive showing against Carlow. It has been quite some time since Westmeath were underdogs against Wicklow. Yet Pat Flanagan, while acknowledging the serious challenge which Wicklow will pose, has said he expects Westmeath to rise to the challenge and win. In a little over a week we’ll have our answer.
Westmeath hurlers in Christy Ring Cup semi-final
Kevin Martin’s Westmeath hurlers enjoyed an impressive six-point win over Down, 2-21 to 1-18, sending them through to the semi-final of the Christy Ring Cup. This was a much improved performance from their previous round defeat to Kerry. Joe Clarke and Dan Carty got the all important goals while Brendan Murtagh weighed in with eight points.
All focus is now on their semi-final meeting with Kildare on Saturday June 5.
Roscommon footballers in action
Roscommon footballers kick off their Connacht SFC campaign when they take on London in Ruislip on Sunday at 3.30pm. Enda Kenny, Cathal McHugh, and Senan Kilbride are ruled out through injury.
Roscommon will be well aware of the fright which Galway got when they travelled to New York. Indeed in their last trip to Ruislip five years ago they scraped their way to a one point win. With so many injuries there will be no room for complacency. With that said it is hard to see anything other than a Roscommon win, which will send them through to the semi-final.