Big performance needed against the Wee County

(Division three final-Croke Park, Saturday 7pm)

Paul Greville will looking to build on his recent good form. Photo: johnobrienimages.com

Paul Greville will looking to build on his recent good form. Photo: johnobrienimages.com

Westmeath footballers will be hoping it’s a case of third time lucky when they take the field against Louth in Croke Park this Saturday evening at 7pm. Louth came out on top when the sides met in the championship last summer and again in the first round of this year’s league campaign.

Indeed Louth were hugely impressive in that opening round game when they had eight points to spare. Anyone who attended it would firstly not have expected Pat Flanagan’s men to be contesting for silverware and secondly would not expect them to turn the tables on the victors that day.

Yet a lot has changed in the past three months and Westmeath’s marked improvement in recent weeks has coincided with the Wee County’s dip in form. That is what makes this division three final so intriguing. Can Westmeath continue to show improvement or will Louth reproduce the form that took them to the Leinster final last summer?

Being honest both sides would agree that gaining promotion was more important than who actually collects the silverware on Saturday night. Yet it is a national title and both sets of players would dearly love to win some silverware in Croke Park. Westmeath have a host of good young players who have never won a medal at county level and this would be a great confidence builder if they could pull off a win on Saturday evening.

Louth for their part will be hoping to in some way make up for last year’s Leinster final debacle when they were robbed of a historic first ever Leinster title. There is no comparison between a Leinster medal and a division three medal but winning any title in Croke Park is nothing to be taken lightly.

Westmeath’s chances of success have been greatly undermined through the absence of key man Dessie Dolan who will be out of the country. Dolan has been one the main reasons Westmeath have gained promotion. He has shown a rich vein of form since return from injury and as well as notching up the scores he provided much needed leadership upfront. His will be big boots to fill.

It is likely that first cousin James Dolan will be the man to benefit from Dessie’s absence and he is likely to start on the wing having impressed when introduced against Offaly. Otherwise the team is likely to be the same as that which started against the Faithful County.

Louth’s Shane Lennon is ranked as doubtful with a leg injury. Louth have chopped and changed their team throughout the league but it is likely that many of the side that beat Waterford in Dungarvan in their last outing will be on duty again.

Midfielder Paddy Keenan was the key man in their last game and his influence will need to be curbed on Saturday evening.

In the absence of Dessie others will have to step up to the plate and provide the scores and leadership necessary to help us over the line. Denis Glennon and Paul Greville are more than capable of leading the attack and we will need big games from both. Davey Glennon, who recently secured a transfer to Dublin club St Sylvester’s, is another capable of tormenting the Louth defence as is Conor Lynam who is likely to start in the corner.

Had Dessie been available I would be travelling with much greater confidence. However Westmeath have a good record in league finals winning three division two titles in the last decade. If memory serves me right Dessie was absent the last time we won division two, so even though he will be a huge loss we are still in with a shout. It will take a massive effort from all concerned to come out on top but with championship edging ever closer Pat Flanagan will be looking for a performance from his side.

 

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