Westmeath v Waterford (Sunday, 2.30pm, Cusack Park )
Pressure is mounting on Westmeath’s footballers to pull a result out of the bag when they welcome Waterford to Cusack Park this Sunday. Pat Flanagan’s men have only managed to secure three points after four outings thus far. With three rounds remaining the possibility of promotion still exists but there is also plenty of work to do to ensure we don’t end up in the drop zone. On last weekend’s performance, the latter looks more likely than the former. Division four is certainly not a place we want to visit.
Home advantage counted for little as Westmeath slumped to yet another disappointing defeat against the Model County last Sunday. The expected bounce following their long awaited win against Tipperary the previous week never materialised.
Waterford currently lie a point ahead of Westmeath in the league thanks to their five-point win over Tipperary last weekend. They also have a better scoring average. That win will ensure they will travel to Mullingar full of confidence.
Westmeath simply have to win if they are to avoid a dogfight with Limerick in Newcastle West on April 3. Offaly provide the opposition in the final round on April 10 and judging by their win over Louth at the weekend they will be a tough nut to crack also.
Cavan, like Westmeath, sit on three points but have an inferior score difference while Limerick and Tipperary currently lie on just two points.
A dramatic improvement all round will be needed to see off the challenge of the often under-rated Waterford men. A better start is a must. Westmeath left themselves with a mountain to climb when they trailed 0-7 to 0-1 after 25 minutes last week. Wexford extended their lead after the break to take a firm hold of the game. Two points each from Glennon and Conor Lynam were added to by a Paul Greville goal to take the bad look off the scoreboard. In truth Wexford were far superior.
Dessie Dolan is unlikely to be available again. Neither too is David Duffy who suffered a shoulder injury. Paul Bannon has withdrawn from the panel meaning that our midfield problems are further limited.
Serious questions are being asked of the team and panel at present. On Sunday they have 70 minutes to answer their critics. I expect them to prevail with three or four points to spare.