Garrycastle begin their provincial club campaign with a home tie in Cusack Park on Sunday at 3.15pm. Having reached last year’s provincial decider expectations are high that the Westmeath representatives will again enjoy a protracted run in Leinster.
Yet Anthony Cunningham will be well aware that this competition in particular must be taken one game at a time. Last year Garrycastle needed extra time to see off the challenge of Longford representatives Clonguish.
This time around it is town side Longford Slashers who provide the opposition. Slashers collected their first title in sixteen years thanks to a three-point win over Dromard.
The Longford outfit have a solid defensive unit and are sure to ask serious questions of Garrycastle. Yet Garrycastle, despite losing last year’s captain Gary Dolan to injury, look even better equipped to give Leinster a good rattle this year.
The return of Justin McAteer and Rory McGowan and the free from injury David O’Shaughnessy are major plusses for the Athlone-based outfit. The experience of last year’s march to the final will also stand them in good stead.
Playing in the familiar surrounds of Cusack Park is another plus and while provincial club games are often tight I expect Garrycastle to justify their favourites tag and progress to a quarter-final meeting with Louth champions Mattock Rangers with four or five points to spare.