Perfect opportunity for Westmeath footballers to make a statement

Fergal Wilson's recovery from a recent injury makes him available for Sunday's 
clash with the Garden County. Photo: John O'Brien

Fergal Wilson's recovery from a recent injury makes him available for Sunday's clash with the Garden County. Photo: John O'Brien

Leinster SFC

Westmeath v Wicklow (Tullamore Sunday June 6, 3.30pm )

We live in strange times indeed. Westmeath enter Sunday’s Leinster quarter-final clash with Wicklow as underdogs. This would have been inconceivable for much of the past decade. Yet given how the fortunes of our footballers have slumped in the past 18 months that is where we now stand.

Our stock in the footballing world has fallen on a par with BP. A straight slide from division one to division three in the National Football League, player disillusionment, controversy over managerial appointments, and low confidence levels are just some of the problems that have blighted our footballers in recent times.

Yet, just like our previously mentioned oil giant, I believe that come Sunday Westmeath will dig deep to ease the pressure that has been on them in recent times.

Sunday’s game is a perfect opportunity to stand up and make a statement. As the odds reflect, it won’t be easy. Yet as Cork hurlers showed, with the right attitude anything is possible.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter. Micko, with 34 years of championship management under his belt, pitted against Pat Flanagan who takes charge for the first time. Wicklow, whose confidence must be sky-high following their 3-13 to 0-12 opening round win over Carlow, will also have revenge on their mind following last year’s extra-time defeat at the same venue. Micko will have them rilled up about the venue itself, calling it a home game for Westmeath.

Wicklow have a fairly settled team against a Westmeath side that has only had six weeks to properly prepare. Wicklow welcome back All-Star nominee defender Ciaran Hyland while Gary Connaughton and Fergal Wilson are available for the Lake County.

Amongst supporters there is an air of expectancy and optimism in Wicklow while in Westmeath it’s more a case of wait and see. Wicklow have as many plusses as Westmeath have question marks.

Yet I believe that on Sunday whatever 15 Westmeath players start, and whoever else is introduced, will come out fighting and do enough to send us through to a semi-final meeting with Kildare or Louth. They have received their share of fair, and at times, unfair criticism. Sunday is an ideal chance to silence their critics.

I believe that Pat Flanagan and his selectors Paul Conway and David Mitchell have done a very good job in a short space of time. Having Denis Glennon and Dessie Dolan back on board is an obvious plus and both players would surely love to mark their return with a big performance.

Gary Connaughton’s return from injury will give added confidence to our defence. While the team has not been announced before going to print, the back line is likely to include John Gaffey, Kieran Gavin, Frank Boyle, Doran Harte, Kieran Martin, and Michael Ennis.What Kieran Martin might lack in experience at centre-back at this level he makes up for with skill and determination. Overall the back line looks solid. It is vital that they tighten up and don’t leak goals as has been happening in recent months.

Midfield has been an area of concern since the departure of Rory O’Connell and David O’Shaughnessy. David Duffy looks likely to be partnered by Paul Bannon. Duffy has come in for criticism at times but I still think he can do an effective job. What Paul Bannon lacks in height as an inter-county midfielder he makes up for with heart. Both players have a vital role to play on Sunday (presuming they are the midfield partnership ) and I am confident they are up to the task. Alan Gaughan and Gary Flanagan are others who can be called on to fill the mid-field berth.

Up front Westmeath look particularly strong. Ger Egan, Denis Glennon, and John Smith would make a decent half-forward line. The inside line is likely to be Conor Lynam, Martin Flanagan, and Dessie Dolan who will be a handful for any full-back line.

Anyone who calls themselves a Westmeath supporter should be in Tullamore on Sunday. This is one game our county need to win. Wicklow supporters will travel in numbers and we need to give our team a lift by outnumbering them.

Many of the Westmeath players have had their pride dented over the past year. It is only by their action on the field that pride can be restored. Paidi once famously said there are tough men in Westmeath. Pat Flanagan’s men will need to show plenty of mental and physical toughness in O’Connor Park on Sunday if they are to progress to a semi-final. I’m a believer and, while I don’t expect it to be a classic, I think we will shade it.

Christy Ring Cup semi-final

Westmeath v Kildare (Saturday June 5, Pairc Tailteann, Navan, 5pm )

Westmeath hurlers must overcome the challenge of Kildare on Saturday if they are to claim a place in this year’s Christy Ring Cup final. Kevin Martin will be hoping his side can show the same passion and hunger as they did against Down. A similar performance should be enough to see them safely through.

Roscommon footballers over first hurdle

Roscommon 0-14

London 0-06

Roscommon had eight points to spare in a scrappy opening round game against London. Donie Shine was scorer in chief with nine points to his credit. The win came at a price however as St Brigid’s clubman Mark O’Carroll suffered a broken leg in the opening minute which will see him side-lined for the rest of the season.

A win is a win but an improved performance will be needed against Leitrim in the semi-final.

Perfect opportunity for Westmeath footballers to make a statement.

Leinstrer SFC

Westmeath v Wicklow (Tullamore Sun, 3.30pm )

We live in strange times indeed. Westmeath enter Sunday’s Leinster quarter-final clash with Wicklow as underdogs. This would have been inconceivable for much of the past decade. Yet given how the fortunes of our footballers have slumped in the past 18 months that is where we now stand.

Our stock in the foot-balling world has fallen on a par with BP. A straight slide from Division 1 to Division 3 in the National Football league, player disillusionment, controversy over managerial appointments and low confidence levels are just some of the problems that have blighted our footballers in recent times.

Yet, just like our previously mentioned oil giant, I believe that come Sunday Westmeath will dig deep to ease the pressure that has been onthem in recent times.

Sunday’s game is a perfect opportunity to stand up and make a statement. As the odds reflect, it won’t be easy .Yet as Cork hurlers showed, with the right attitude anything is possible.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter. Micko, with 34 years of championship management under his belt, pitted against Pat Flanagan who takes charge for the first time. Wicklow, whose confidence must be sky high following their 3-13 to 0-12 opening round win over Carlow, will also have revenge on their mind following last year’s extra-time defeat at the same venue. Micko will have them rialled up about the venue itself, calling it a home game for Westmeath.

Wicklow have a fairly settled team against a Westmeath side that has only had six weeks to properly prepare. Wicklow welcome back all-star nominee defender Ciaran Hyland while Gary Connaughton and Fergal Wilson are available for the Lake County.

Amongst supporters there is an air of expectancy and optimism in Wicklow while in Westmeath it’s more a case of wait and see. Wicklow have as many plusses as Westmeath have question marks.

Yet I believe that on Sunday whatever 15 Westmeath players start and whoever else is introduced will come out fighting and do enough to send us through to a semi-final meeting with Kildare or Louth. They have received their share of fair, and at times, unfair criticism. Sunday is an ideal chance to silence their critics.

I believe that Pat Flanagan and his selectors Paul Conway and David Mitchell have done a very good job in a short space of time. Having Denis Glennon and Dessie Dolan back on board is an obvious plus and both players would surely love to mark their return with a big performance.

Gary Connaughton’s return from injury will give added confidence to our defence. While the team has not been announced before going to print, the back line is likely to include John Gaffey, Kieran Gavin, Frank Boyle Doran Harte, Kieran Martin and Michael Ennis. What Kieran Martin might lack in experience at centre-back at this level he makes up for with skill and determination. Overall the backline looks solid. It is vital that they tighten up and don’t leak goals as has been happening in recent months.

Midfield has been an area of concern since the departure of Rory O Connell and David O Shaughnessy. David Duffy looks likely to be partnered by Paul Bannon. Duffy has come in for criticism at times but I still think he can do an effective job. What Paul Bannon lacks in height as an inter-county midfielder he makes up for with heart. Both players have a vital role to play on Sunday (presuming they are the midfield partnership ) and I am confident they are up to the task. Alan Gaughan and Gary Flanagan are others who can be called on to fill the mid-field berth.

Up front Westmeath look particularly strong. Ger Egan Denis Glennon and John Smith would make a decent half-forward line. The inside line is likely to be Conor Lynam, Martin Flanagan and Dessie Dolan who will be a handful for any full-back line.

Anyone who calls themselves a Westmeath supporter should be in Tullamore on Sunday. This is one game our county need to win. Wicklow supporters will travel in numbers and we need to give our team a lift by outnumbering them.

Many of the Westmeath players have had their pride dented over the past year. It is only by their action on the field that pride can be restored. Paidi once famously said there are tough men in Westmeath. Pat Flanagan’s men will need to show plenty of mental and physical toughness in O Connor Park on Sunday if they are to progress to a semi-final. I’m a believer and, while I don’t expect it to be a classic,I think we will shade it.

Christy Ring Cup Semi-final.

Westmeath v Kildare (Sat, Pairc Tailteann,Navan 5pm )

Westmeath hurlers must overcome the challenge of Kildare on Saturday if they are to claim a place in this year’s Christy Ring Cup final. Kevin Martin will be hoping his side can show the same passion and hunger as they did against Down. A similar performance should be enough to see them safely through.

Roscommon footballers over first hurdle.

Roscommon 0-14

London 0-06

Roscommon had 8 points to spare in a scrappy opening round game against London. Donie Shine was scorer in chief with 9 points to his credit. The win came at a price however as St Brigid’s clubman Mark O Carroll suffered a broken leg in the opening minute which will see him side-lined for the rest of the season.

A win is a win but an improved performance will be needed against Leitrim in the semi-final.

 

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